Friday, August 12, 2022

Book Nook: Art Books from Quarto - Bird Embroidery, Anime/Manga, Watercolor Flowers


Learn to create a variety of birds following the newest embroidery trend -- thread painting – with Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds.

Through a collection of 12 detailed, full-color patterns, aspiring and established embroidery artists will discover how to employ the art of thread painting to create a range of popular birds and waterfowl from around the world, including North America, the Amazon rain forest, and Europe. Thread painting is the name for using single strands of embroidery floss to create lifelike images with beautifully blended gradients of color and detail. Fortunately, the process is not as hard as it sounds! After learning a bit about how to create gradients and blend colors, anyone can create incredible embroidered masterpieces.


With Design Your Own Anime and Manga Characters, you’ll learn character design for these popular entertainment genres from renowned concept artist and teacher TB Choi. 

  • Constructing a Character. Build a character right from the start with the basics of human anatomy and proportion.
  • Simplifying Forms for Poses and Gestures. Streamline form to develop effective poses and gestures from a variety of angles.
  • Drawing Hair, Clothing, and Accessories. Render authentic details that support your characters and enrich your stories.
  • Conveying Dimension, Emotion, and Character. Refine your use of line, shadow, and form to create visual variety, depth, and emotion.
  • Pets, Chibis, and Sidekicks. Create pets, chibis, anthros, and kemonomimi with personality.
  • Exercise: Design and Draw a Character. Learn a simple method for developing an original character, from mind map to finished drawing.


Explore the basics of color theory and color mixing, and then apply your new skills to create your own beautiful floral watercolor paintings, step by colorful step.

Color theory and color mixing are essential topics for all artists to know, and Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers covers both in an easy-to-follow way with simple, actionable steps that any artist can do. This book is ideal for all skill levels and ages, and while it focuses on watercolor, the same tips and techniques can be applied to other media as well, including acrylic, oil, and gouache. Once you’re familiar with color theory and feel comfortable creating your own color mixes, dive into the step-by-step painting projects. Each project is done in the style seen on the author’s popular Instagram account (@thewhimsicalcreative) and features beautiful, romantic florals painted in watercolor. Learn how to paint floral wreaths, bouquets, and different types of leaves and plants.

Book Nook: Surely Surely Marisol Rainey

 SURELY SURELY MARISOL RAINEY (Greenwillow Books)—by Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly is a humorous story about friendship, family, and fitting in; and it has already been included in roundups from Publisher’s WeeklyHorn Book Magazine, and Hasty Book List, to name a few.  


About the book: One of Marisol Rainey’s least favorite things is gym class, so when Coach Decker announces that they will be learning to play kickball, she dreads it, wondering what can go wrong: What if she tries to kick the ball . . . but falls down? What if she tries to catch the ball and gets smacked in the nose? What if she’s the worst kickballer in the history of kickball? Marisol and her best friend Jada decide to get help from the most unlikely—and most annoying—athlete in the world: Marisol’s big brother, Oz. 


About the author: 


New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey which she also illustrated. 

Parenting Pointers: Best & Worst States to Have a Baby


With the average birth costing over $3,000 for mothers with insurance, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022’s Best & Worst States to Have a Baby, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.

To determine the most ideal places in the U.S. for parents and their newborns, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 32 key measures of cost, health care accessibility and baby-friendliness. The data set ranges from hospital conventional-delivery charges to annual average infant-care costs to pediatricians per capita.  
Best States to Have a BabyWorst States to Have a Baby
1. Massachusetts42. Nevada
2. Vermont43. West Virginia
3. Minnesota44. Oklahoma
4. New Hampshire45. Arkansas
5. Rhode Island46. Florida
6. Connecticut47. Georgia
7. North Dakota48. Louisiana
8. Washington49. Mississippi
9. Iowa50. Alabama
10. Utah51. South Carolina
Best vs. Worst
  • Mississippi has the lowest average annual cost for early child care, $4,182, which is 3.8 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at $16,056.
  • Oregon has the lowest share of childbirths with low birth weight, 6.53 percent, which is 1.8 times lower than in Mississippi, the highest at 11.82 percent.
  • New Jersey has the most obstetricians and gynecologists (per 100,000 residents), 23, which is 11.5 times more than in Kansas, the fewest at 2.
  • Massachusetts has the highest parental leave policy score, 160, while 9 states, such as Alabama, Michigan and South Dakota, tie for the lowest at 0.

To view the full report and your state or the District’s rank, please visit:

More from WalletHub 
Expert Commentary
 What drives the birth rate to be in a continuing downward trend in the US?
“First, in an advanced economy like ours, birthrates tend to track economic conditions. When things are going well, young couples judge that they can afford a child (or another child). That is why the birthrate went down rather sharply when the Great Recession hit. And it is not surprising that they are low today, because inflation and COVID have left many people feeling quite uncertain about their economic futures. Second, I think we are still seeing a long-term process of change, which started in the second half of the 20th century, in which fewer and fewer Americans – and particularly women – invest their identities in full-time parenthood. Combining work and family promises a much richer life, even if the United States makes it harder to combine them successfully than our peer nations do. We are the only advanced economy in the world that does not have a national paid parental leave benefit, our childcare system is private and costly, and only about half the states guarantee paid sick leave. Absent these supports, while people still want children, they tend to have fewer, and have them later in life, compared to the past.”
Matthew Weinshenker – Chair of Sociology & Anthropology; Associate Professor, Fordham University
“So many factors. People waiting longer to get married. Women pursuing their educational and career goals first. The staggering costs of raising children. Lack of supportive national policies for parents, including paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and other income transfers.”
Aislinn Conrad – Ph.D., M.S.W. – Assistant Professor, University of Iowa
What is the biggest financial mistake that prospective parents make?
“The biggest financial mistake that prospective parents make is planning avoidance. Many families are anxious or intimidated when it comes to budgeting or financial planning with the addition of children. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, they avoid thinking about these challenges, or may they assume that things will just work out. A lot of these planning mistakes vary as a function of family income and savings. At the lower end of the economic ladder, it is important to understand that about 17% of children in the United States are now at or below the poverty line. Planning for lower-income families becomes a high-stakes proposition for accessing the support of family members and access to programs and services to offset costs. Planning is also important for families with greater income and wealth, but the focus shifts to managing cash flow for the additional costs and having a longer-term horizon for major expenses, such as a college education.”
Steven Meyers, Ph.D., ABPP – Professor and Chair of Psychology, Roosevelt University
“Leaving the workforce. According to the Center for American Progress, parents who leave the workforce to raise children may lose up to three or four times their annual salary every year they are not in the workforce, which has a significant impact on their dirtier earning capacity and retirement funds available. Also, parents who leave the workforce and try to re-enter it later experience wage discrepancies.”
Aislinn Conrad – Ph.D., M.S.W. – Assistant Professor, University of Iowa
What can local authorities do to make their cities more baby-friendly?
“Besides making policies that can stimulate child care facilities or providers, the local authorities can also regulate community service facilities and businesses to make sure baby friendly facilities are installed like in public parks, libraries, shops, and restaurants.”
Xiaohui Sophie Li, Ph.D., CFLE, AFC® – Associate Professor, Northern Illinois University
“Local authorities have many options to make cities more baby-friendly. Some are investments in the built environment, such as parks, playgrounds, and public libraries. Other investments are in local educational systems, from pre-kindergarten through high school. Early intervention programs to assist at-risk children are especially important in improving long-term outcomes. For example, some programs send a visiting nurse to do home visits for overwhelmed parents. There is a range of initiatives that assist young children with developmental disabilities to help them develop skills to avoid life-long challenges. Other programs are critical for helping families avoid food or housing insecurity. These all reflect whether children and families are a priority in terms of local-level resource allocation.”
Steven Meyers, Ph.D., ABPP – Professor and Chair of Psychology, Roosevelt University

Parenting Pointers: How To Deal with Unsolicited Parenting Advice (From Non-Parents and In-Laws)

It's quite annoying dealing with unsolicited parenting advice. 

Especially from people who don't even have kids in the first place! Or from your own parents or in-laws who have an outdated approach on how to raise children.

They seem to question everything! 

From asking you why you do put a leash on your 4 kids who are all under 4 years old, to insisting that you don't need a smart bassinet, to advising that your 3-month-old can already eat rice and oatmeal.

Every step and choice you make as a parent seems doubtful, inappropriate, and altogether wrong.

So how do you deal with unwanted parenting advice without being bitchy or outright rude?

How do you put your in-laws or other people in their rightful place, without stirring the pot or causing some commotion?

Here are some ways you can handle such unwanted behaviors in the most respectful way possible

How To Deal with Unsolicited Parenting Advice From In-Laws

Listen first

It might be against every fiber of your being but half of the time, most in-laws think what they're sharing is helpful and valuable.

And you might not want to admit it, but you might learn a thing or two from them. So just listen, be open-minded and just pick up some insight that might help you eventually.

Pick your battles

Dealing with kids 24/7 is already hard enough. Who has the energy to fight off unwarranted advice from in-laws!

So if you want a less exhausting encounter with your ever-preaching relatives, pick your battles.

Let them have their say, especially if it's a very small, insignificant issue that won't really affect your or your kid's life for a very long time.

If they insist that your kid wears sunscreen again even though you've already slathered them with it, then fine, do another layer again.

If they want another photo with your grandkids while you hold them under the scorching sun, fine, grin and bare your teeth and let them handle your children when they start wailing.

Just let them have it once in a while. Especially if it's not that big of a deal, to put less stress on yourself and less strain on your relationship with them.

Learn then teach

If you just can't stand all the talks they're saying about how to raise your kids, especially when it comes to disciplining them, counter-attack with science-based arguments.

Learn from experts, read books and watch relevant content and refer back and show them your sources. Especially when they're doubtful of your reasoning.

Be confident

In-laws, especially those that you're not friends with, can smell apprehension and weakness.

So don't let them know how you're just winging this parenthood thingy!

Be confident. Embrace your choices with confidence. Be enthusiastic, share with them your findings and research, and talk to them about how your kids are doing and they're improving.

That hopefully, would make them slink away and retreat to their corner.

Be honest

If you like your in-laws but you just don't like how they always dish unwanted parenting advice, try having a heart-to-heart talk with them.

Tell them first how much you appreciate all the care and love they've been giving to your and your kids. But that you'd be more comfortable doing things your way without being questioned about it. 

Tell them you know what you're doing, share with them your plans, show you've done the research (quote and show your resources if you must!) and that you'd like to raise your kids in a nonconflicting manner.

How To Respond to Unwanted Parenting Advice From Non-Parents

Refrain from kid-related topics

If you're already aware that they tend to give unsolicited parenting advice, then don't bring up any subject related to your kid.

In fact, just don't talk to them about any subject related to children!

Especially if your children are not around. 

So don't complain to them about how tired you were because your baby won't sleep, won't eat, won't take a bath, etc. 

Just don't talk to them about kids. Just. Don't.

Agree to disagree

This also applies to in-laws.

If you don't want things to escalate, especially if they can't just see your POV, then just agree to disagree.

You will just waste your time making them come around your corner.

So might as well let them have their own opinion while being open with yours and just move on to some friendlier, non-child-related topics.

Have a standard reply

If they still insist that what they think is the right thing to do for your kid, give them a standard response.

Such as "That might be the right way for you, when you have your own family. And I could change my mind about it but for now, this is working for my own kids."

Prepare and practice it in advance so you can deliver it in a cool, calm, collected manner.

Get away, literally

This can apply to both pesky in-laws and people with no children, who just don't get how you hate them giving you parenting advice.

If you know that there's nothing you can say or do, that would make them change their mind about dishing out unwarranted advice, then do this. 

When they're saying something irritating again, smile, nod your head, and say "That's interesting!" then make up an excuse to get away from them. 

Do it often then maybe they'll finally get a clue.

Final Thoughts on Dealing with Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Sometimes, being polite and understanding can backfire. So if none of these respectful and courteous ways are working on your in-laws or other people, try the more tactful approach.

Express openly your disdain for their unwanted parenting advice. 

You don't need to be straight-up angry about it, but if that's the only way for them to back off and keep your sanity, then so be it!

Consumer Critique: MyBevi

 I'm happy to highlight MyBevi drink tumblers. They have a wide variety of insulated bottles and tumblers, perfect for keeping cold beverages and hot beverages at the appropriate temperatures. They have a lot of really classy designs too, and are available in a wide variety of colors, so you're definitely going to be able to find one that suits your style. You can even customize many of the available products.

One thing I like about the company is that they make it easy to buy replacement parts too - so if you lose a lid or it gets dinged up or hard to wash, you don't have to replace the whole thing. That can really save extra waste in the long run.

Right now you can use code SAVE20 for 20% off your order of $60 or more.

Money Matters: Consumer Duty Regulations

 Earlier today, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced the implementation of a new Consumer Duty regulation. This will be game changing for consumer protection.

Moneyhub, the market-leading Open Data and payments platform, has announced that its Open Finance technology enables financial services businesses to ensure compliance with the new Consumer Duty.

I had a chance to learn more in this interview.

Vaughan Jenkins, Business Development Director, Moneyhub

  • What does the new Consumer Duty regulation mean for businesses?

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) new Consumer Duty regulations are designed to raise the bar on consumer outcomes and place several requirements on financial services organisations serving retail customers. The regulations not only cover products and prices but also the service and communications between the customer, the product provider and the intermediary, if there is one. 

Businesses must provide products and services that are right for their customers, focusing on their real and diverse needs. This includes serving those that are vulnerable due to health or personal circumstances. Firms will have to demonstrate suitability from product design, marketing and from the point of sale to throughout the lifetime of the contract.

  • How will this impact consumers?

The Consumer Duty states that firms “must act to deliver good outcomes for retail consumers”. Consumers will benefit from helpful and accessible customer support as well as information that is not complex or over-complicated. The Duty will also require fair value in charges and fees.

Firms have until July 2023 to address any issues before the regulation comes into effect and have to have a plan in place by the end of October. These measures should impact consumers by improving outcomes and ultimately enhancing financial wellbeing.

For the FCA, an important driver of change is the asymmetry of information - which means the gap between the knowledge of consumers and financial services businesses. This leads to the misselling of unsuitable products, which increases the risk of negative outcomes. When consumers are better informed, they make better decisions.

  • Why should businesses consider Moneyhub's services, especially in light of the new regulations?

Holistic financial wellbeing can only be achieved through a two-way exchange of information and insights. Moneyhub is an Open Data and Open Finance platform that enables companies to transform data into personalised digital experiences and initiate payments. Both Open Finance and Open Data empower consumers to share their data after giving explicit consent, therefore enabling providers to use this data to identify and develop innovative new hyper-personalised products based on a sophisticated understanding of needs and behaviours.

Moneyhub’s Open Finance and Open Data technology has Consumer Duty compliance baked in, unlocking a win-win for both businesses and consumers. Companies benefit from the ability to build new services whilst ensuring adherence to the Duty. Consumers have access to better services which suit their needs, as well as an enhanced duty of care unlocked by providers’ ability to identify early warning signs of financial issues and then take appropriate action to mitigate them.

Moneyhub’s Open Finance Technology can aggregate account information from the widest range of sources in the UK. We can draw on information from 200 UK financial institutions and 700 products.

Our technology can also analyse and categorise income and expenditure, evaluate historic transactions, build budgets and forecast cash flows. We enable businesses to identify potential vulnerabilities in their customers based on analysis of their behaviours, transactions and financial decisions, as well as detecting changes in personal circumstances.

Moneyhub can also provide content and notification “nudges” which prompt consumers to take positive actions which improve outcomes.

The Consumer Duty is likely to prove a milestone in the development of Open Finance and Open Data. Moneyhub raises the bar on customer-centricity, with improved customer outcomes and Consumer Duty compliance baked in.

To find out more about the new rules, you can visit our Consumer Duty resource page. 

Keep reading to learn more:

Moneyhub, the market-leading Open Data and payments platform, has announced that its Open Finance technology enables financial services businesses to ensure compliance with the new Consumer Duty.


The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) new Consumer Duty regulations are designed to raise the bar on consumer outcomes and require businesses to:


·       end rip-off charges and fees

·       make it as easy to switch or cancel products as it was to take them out in the first place

·       provide helpful and accessible customer support

·       provide timely and clear (rather than lengthy and complicated) information, that people can understand to make good financial decisions

·       provide products and services that are right for their customers

·       focus on the real and diverse needs of their customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances, at every stage of a product’s lifecycle, and in each interaction

Moneyhub’s Open Finance solutions have compliance built in. They enable clients to gain the required insight into their customers’ complete financial position and any potential changes in their circumstances, which is key to fulfilling the Consumer Duty.


To aid understanding and educate the market, Moneyhub has published a blog discussing “What, why and how to comply” with Consumer Duty.


Sam Seaton, Moneyhub CEO, has also written an open letter to fellow CEOs, discussing the implications of the new rules. She wrote: “Moving towards an Open Finance-based, data-driven, customer-centric model is transformational for businesses and good for both profitability and efficiency.


“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way still to go – and the next leap forward is

the move to aggregating individual customers’ data, from banking and pensions to loans,

investments, mortgages and properties, and making use of the insights of Open Finance.


“Consumer Duty certainly presents an alarming array of demands and challenges, but it also

presents an even broader array of opportunities. Providing the data-driven insights that can underpin individual, personalised propositions like this is at the heart of what Moneyhub does. And we can provide them either directly to the customer or, with the customer’s permission, to firms providing products and services, so they can create tailored communications and propositions to meet individual customers’ proven needs.”


Vaughan Jenkins, Moneyhub’s Director of Business Development, spoke at an Open Banking Excellence (OBE) Campfire to discuss the implications of the Consumer Duty.


He said: “During the FCA consultation on Consumer Duty, Moneyhub identified Open Finance as the solution to help bridge data gaps to evidence outcomes, and significantly reduce the cost of compliance.


“In addition, it opens new opportunities for businesses to use consent-based consumer data to identify and develop new hyper-personalised products based on needs and behaviours.


“With ongoing engagement, it provides a means of identifying early warnings of issues and the ability to act to limit detriment using an evidence base. The behavioural insights available are significantly enhanced by the adoption and facilitation of Open Finance powered tools.


“By adopting Open Finance, businesses can ensure that they are exercising appropriate governance across the value chain. Consumer Duty compliance is an integral feature of Moneyhub’s Open Data powered technology.”


Moneyhub’s Open Finance Technology can:


·       Aggregate account information from the widest range of sources in the UK (200 UK financial institutions and 700 products plus international account aggregation).

·       Analyse and categorise income and expenditure and create a net worth position from both connected and manually input assets and liabilities.

·       Evaluate historic transactions, build budgets and forecast cash flows.

·       Identify the vulnerability of potential consumers through behaviours, transactions and financial decisions.

·       Detect changes in personal circumstances through connected financial accounts such as cash movements, changes in income and payment commitments or account closures

·       Provide content and notification nudges to consumers to improve outcomes and address changes, as well as alerting the client’s trusted advisers if intended outcomes are no longer relevant or achievable.

Book Nook: Books for Young Adults from Simon & Schuster

 I recently had a chance to review several books that are great for any young adult, especially those who are in the middle of a transition, whether it's off to college or a new job.

Buddha U - this book is all about mindfulness lessons in the midst of a lot of events that often happen to college kids - first dates, exams, early morning classes, and more. By capitalizing on the idea of being mindful, it encourages college students to be more present and as a result have a more fulfilling experience. The bite-size lessons are easy to read in just a few minutes at a time - perfect for a time-strapped college kid.

The College Bucket List - this is another one more specifically targeted to college students, and can act as sort of a check-off list for common parts of the college experience. There were some things on the list that I never did in college - and never had a desire to do - but over all it's a great way for college students to get ideas of experiences to look out for.

Own Your Greatness - this is great for any young adult - or any adult, period. I love that it directly addresses imposter syndrome and self-doubt. Those are all too easy to struggle with in a world where people often put only the best on social media, and this book helps readers work through their struggles and form a healthy level of self-confidence.

Self-Love Workbook - this is another great book for anyone who struggles with self-esteem or wants to improve their own self-image. It's got a lot of great food for thought and prompts along the way to help improve self-esteem, even if readers are coming from a place of low self-worth. There were some ideas and perspectives I hadn't heard before, and overall it's a great, uplifting book.

I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook - don't let the title fool you. This is a great book for anyone who likes Trader Joe's and is eager to try new things in the kitchen but doesn't quite know how. Using some easy-to-find projects from Trader Joe's in unique combinations, even people with very limited cooking skills will be able to whip up great, tasty meals and snacks in no time!

Consumer Critique: Sprinkle & Sweep

 Although we're out of the housebreaking stage, our pet does still make messes in the house when she's eaten something that doesn't agree with her and we can't get her out in time. So Sprinkle & Sweep was definitely a product I was happy to review.

Honestly, this isn't something I'll keep just to pet accidents. We tried it out on a few other kitchen messes as well, and it's awesome. It absorbs liquids and turns them into solids almost immediately, making it really easy to just sweep them up. It also helps reduce odors (the company suggests another use as a litter box or trash can deodorizer). It's incredibly easy to use, and something I would definitely recommend to any pet owner or family with little ones around!