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Welcome to this woman's world. You'll find out everything about me, a 40-something mom of a toddler, two preschoolers and a teenager with a home and a freelance editing and writing career. I write product and book reviews, health updates, personal journal entries, paid postings and a bit of randomness. I hope you enjoy and come back often.
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1. Summer #Giveaway: #Win a Big Green Egg Grill® from Jarlsberg® Cheese

In honor of their 60th anniversary, Jarlsberg Cheese® is hosting an amazing Summer Giveaway. Each week until August 31st, they're giving away a Big Green Egg Grill®. All you have to do to enter is fill out the entry form everyday with your information. You also have the option of adding a picture or description showing your way of enjoying Jarlsberg cheese.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about this giveaway. If you don't already have an amazing grill this is a chance to win one (a good one!) for your very own. What a way to enjoy the rest of your summer, right?

About Jarlsberg Cheese:

They were founded in 1956 and is touted as the go-to cheese in the United States and abroad. The cheese has a slightly nutty, mild flavor and is a great staple to keep in your kitchen to grab for an on-the-go snack, use in your favorite recipes or sandwiches, and, of course, on your barbecue favorites. It's naturally gluten and lactose free and is available in Lite and Smoked varieties.

Supporting Jarlsberg Cheese:

This post is my contest entry for the contest. Yes, that means I also have a chance to win one of the Big Green Egg grills. Regardless of that, any opinions expressed are my own and I am a real supporter of the company.

Now, make sure you leave this window open so you can take a look at a couple of other posts I wrote that included Jarlsberg Chess: A party kit contest and Super Bowl snack ideas.

Let's review: 

  • Enter daily for a chance to win weekly prize. (Did I mention it's a weekly prize?)
  • Add a photo to your entry. (Optional)
  • You can also enter on Facebook or on the Jarlsberg site. 
  • And don't forget to share your entry using #jarlsberg.
The giveaway ends on August 31st so don't hesitate to enter. Good luck!

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2. Stay in Style with Tobi.com #fashion #review

I received complimentary products for the purpose of this review;
all opinions expressed are my own. Policy.

Post contains an affiliate link.

If you troll social media as much as I do then you come across plenty of goodies that you like. I find myself drooling over the latest styles and I'm a sucker for pretty & current jewelry. That's why I fell in love with Tobi.com from the moment I learned about them. 

Based in California, Tobi.com is an online fashion boutique that serves customers in more than 150 countries. They're in the business of providing the "latest fashions at amazing prices." 

When I clicked over to their site I became extremely excited by what I saw. Unfortunately, my excitement was somewhat waylaid when I discovered the light, effortless and beautiful pieces do not go beyond size large. To give you an idea, the sizing chart indicates the L is a bust size between 38 and 39, but that it's also a U.S. size 8 to 10. 

Role Model Slit Maxi Dress in Rust

Paige Surplice Tank Top in Grey

Cute pieces, right? And the fact that they don't come in my size is a bit... well, a lot, disappointing. But, you know, that didn't deter me. I perused the site and discovered accessories and shoes that fit the bill.

One of the keys to a complete outfit is great accessories, right? I've been fascinated by different ring combinations, which is why I chose to review the High Standards Ring Set in Gold.

High Standards Ring Set in Gold
Although I prefer silver I have noticed that gold is making a style comeback and I had to get in on it too. I really like how the rings look against my skin and they look exactly like the image on the site (also above). If you're interested in getting a set for yourself, keep in mind these run a little small. My ring sizes are 7 to 9 (my pinky, however, is about a 6) and I'm only able to get two of the rings to the base of my fingers.

It just so happens, the rings fit two of my daughters and they've claimed three of them - my middle daughter has two and my youngest has one - for themselves. Even though they're jewelry thieves who are banned from my jewelry stash, the rings look great on them.

As seen on my Instagram page.

Tobi.com is one of the fashion sites I'm drawn to because the clothes seem so comfortable and they are priced very reasonably. I am not sure if I'll be able to resist the In the Mix Necklace Set in Gold to go along with the rings and expand my collection. Aren't they the perfect choice? (see below)

In the Mix Necklace Set in Gold

You can style the rings with the necklace set from Tobi along with something from your wardrobe like I did (brown leggings, boho lace vest, and double-strand beaded necklace) with the Harriet Slide-On Sandal in Nude, shown below. I got my vest from Forever 21 earlier this year. Here's a similar vest for ya. The sandals fit very comfortably, but as I walk my feet tend to slide out of them. It could be because I have narrow feet and they may not be snug enough. Otherwise, they fit true to size.

You'll be all set while looking cute and stylish for a weekend out or a walk on the beach. There are quite a few outfits on their site that will look great with the slides, but I'd choose something like Fiona's Flower Romper, pictured below, and pair the outfit with the rings and necklaces. The romper also comes in Black, Lavender, and Light Blue.

Fiona's Flowy Romper
With Tobi.com you can make a fashion statement and remain comfortable while doing it. Although the Tobi choices won't fit everyone they do have something for everyone. In addition to what I've shared here, they also have scarves, hats, tights, belts and other accessories as well as jeans, sweaters, pants, etc. 

Shop now and take advantage of the current sale. Fifty percent off, people!

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3. 5 Ways to Fix a Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with my blog. I could leave that statement like that and continue on from there, but that would be deceptive. The truth is, I realize the love/hate relationship I have with my blog is a metaphor for the love/hate relationship I have with myself.

When I look at my blog I see something I really love, but I also see something that needs a lot of changes and updates. Regardless of how badly I want to update it, I can never seem to get it like I want it when it comes to design. And I can never figure out what I want to write. It's mainly because of "chemo brain" that this happens, but it also has to do with my inexperience lack of understanding with design and HTML. If you've been pregnant before then you'll understand what I'm talking about when it comes to "chemo brain" because it's similar to "pregnant brain" or "new mom brain."
Image courtesy of tigger11th at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You see, my most recent battle with Multiple Myeloma along with my struggles with fibromyalgia and Sjogren's Syndrome have left my brain a little off. Regardless of how many ideas I come up with, I'm unable to see them through and regardless of my efforts, things don't turn out quite the way I envision them.

It's the same when I look at myself. I walk around feeling sorta light; so close to my old self (long before these illnesses started plaguing me) then I look in the mirror and see someone else. 

Early 2015. A few months after my hair started growing back.
I see a person who is more than 30 pounds overweight, who's always tired (it shows in my eyes) and who doesn't like the way I look in my clothes... I think I'll surpass talking about my hair because I'm really thankful that I have hair now. About a year and a half ago I didn't have any hair thanks to chemotherapy. Now, although it isn't as long as I would like, I am so pleased with it that there's no reason to complain about it.

June 2016. One week after deciding to grow dreadlocks again.
Beyond the way I view myself are the clothes in my closet, the money in my checking account and my path in life. It comes down to this: If my brain isn't going to continue doing (at least consistently) what I love to do then what do I do instead?
Here are the solutions: 5 ways to fix a love/hate relationship...

  1. Acceptance: Even when there are actions we can do to make changes; we have to first accept the way things are.
  2. Adjustment: Instead of trying to quickly make large changes to my blog I've decided to make small adjustments over time and learn more about the process as I go along. When it comes to my blog, maybe this month I'll focus on advertisements and the like. And, when it comes to me, the least I can do is a regular commitment to yoga.
  3. Assertion: I'm going to speak what I want... (and write it down!). I'll forcefully assert myself to bring about change. How does that work? Instead of getting overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and flitted around aimlessly I'll purposefully declare my intentions then take action. For my blog, that means defining my goal and action steps to meet the goal; and for myself, there are a number of goals I want to achieve. That means I'll have to prioritize and follow the steps to achieve said goals.
  4. Advancement: Trying to meet a goal can be a scary thing; however, think of it like this: Once you meet your goal (like reaching the top of the mountain), you're able to identify other achievements - higher advancements - you want to make. For instance, once my blog is "perfect" then I need to step up my marketing and solidify myself within my market. What in the world does a personal advancement look like for me? (Glad you asked.) Once I meet my physical goals then I can assist others in doing the same.
  5. Assistance: Speaking of assisting, I can't do all of this alone. That's one of the reasons I'm telling you. I know my loyal readers and my friends will check in with me to see how it's going. And, I'll need to request assistance with my blog and my personal goals. It not only takes a village to raise a child; it also takes one to build a business and to have a fulfilling life.


What about relationships with loved ones?

I am using the examples above for my blog and personal life, but these same principles can be applied for just about any relationship. In a love relationship you have to:

  1. Accept where you are. No, the grass isn't greener on the other side.
  2. Adjust your viewpoint. Even if you're right (or think you are), you have to understand another's point of view.
  3. Assert your intentions. Speak out for how you see things and what you want.
  4. Advance beyond the norm. Relationships take effort, but you can go beyond mediocre to extraordinary if you put in the work.
  5. Ask for assistance. That's from your children or significant other. That could be from the couple you know who's been married 20 years. Even your doctor, therapist, wise friend... you get the point.

Please share in the comments: What love/hate relationship do you need to work on?

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4. Avoiding a Construction Zone

I hate to admit it, but I don't have any solutions for avoiding construction zones. However, after I figure out this blog template I am hoping to have many solutions for you. In the meantime, please click around and read some of my old posts. Here are a few of my favorites:

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5. Put Pen to Paper for Letter Writing Month

I'm be the first to admit I've fallen "victim" to the call of the keyboard. Its melody swirls around me and forces me to text, email or send a Facebook message. You  know, much like how a mermaid's siren song lures fishermen from their vessels. 

It's easy to give into it; it's convenient, quick and oftentimes succinct. In my case, it allows me to continue what I'm doing without interruption but to also stay in touch... Sometimes having complete conversations. (it really only works well if both people are good at that form of communication.) 

When I was an adolescent and even into my early 20s, I got immense pleasure from writing and receiving letters. I couldn't wait for the mail to be delivered because there would be a letter from my first love (I was 14) or my grandmother. As I got older, life got busier and technology more common place, letter writing was one of the first things to let go. 

Let's try to change that. Well, for this month at least then we'll see where it takes us. Pick up your paper, markers,gel pens, colored pencils, stickers, postcards and stationary (or just the regular stuff, if you like) and hand write some letters and notes to those who are too far away for frequent visits. There's still something special and even magical - when it's not a bill - in sending and receiving mail. 

I almost always have some type of pretty paper stashed for just such an occasion. Here are a few of my choices:

Scrapbooking paper can be made into
 the prettiest cards and stationary. 
In addition to using scrapbook paper for its intended purpose, I use it for greeting cards, projects and stationary. It has a nice heavy weight so your cards or letters aren't flimsy, which makes it even better for adding stickers and other embellishments.

When I'm in a hurry, notecards are perfect. You can get them with pre-written messages or blank to make them even more personalized. When you use the pre-written ones be sure to still include a personal note.

I adore using notecards especially bright colors.
Don't you just love the puppy 🐶 cards I found for my
 children to use? 
One never had enough stickers! 
Stickers can be expensive so I often purchase them on sale. A stroll through your favorite craft, fabric or paper store will lead thou to goodies on clearance. Stock up so when you want to make something you may have exactly what you need. 

Now, all you have to do is make a list of people you haven't been in touch with lately and send them a nice letter or card. Will you celebrate Letter Writing Month? 

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6. Choose professional essay-writing services

Let's face it; if you're a college student at any level it can be difficult to keep up with all of the work especially when it's time to write essays and papers. When deadlines are looming and your strengths do not include essay writing, consider employing a service to complete the task for you. One of things I always tell clients, and anyone who will listen, if you can't do it yourself or it's not your strong suit then hire someone to do it for you.

My advice is the same when it comes to essay writing. Think about this: You hire professional plumbers, electricians, mechanics and others that you may need, why not do the same for something as important as this. Some may tell you it isn't a good idea to have someone else write for you, but when you do all of the research, give them the key components and work with them to get your essay complete it isn't their (the essay writer's) work, it's yours.

You can always do your own research and find an essay writer to work with, but can you imagine how much time that will take if you don't already have a recommendation, service or person lined up? Too much time when you're on a tight deadline.

To save you some time, here's an essay service you should look into: Essay-bag.com. 

'We are a custom essay writing service, and we are heavily experienced in this field. Everyone on our staff has an advanced degree in his or her respective field. Many hold more than one degree, some even PhDs. But it's not just about the prestige. It's about the quality of our work overall. We believe, as do our thousands of repeat customers, that we simply offer the best available work in the world. Chances are that you'll feel the same way about us once you've experienced the process for yourself. Custom essays are more than just something that sounds cool. In fact, there is no other way to describe the process we've developed for our customers. Each and every one of our essays is custom written to your specifications, to the point that neither you nor your professors will be able to detect a difference between your writing and ours. That's probably a good thing, don't you think?'

Although Essay-bag.com was established in Australia, the service is available to everyone at all academic levels. In addition to essay writing, they offer a wide range of services - dissertations, thesis, term papers, and course work. Ordering through Essay Bag is easy. All you have to do is choose the type of academic writing you need, provide specific information, your sources and finally choose your deadline. Once that's all set it'll be time to complete your order with your payment. Prices are competitive and available in different packages for a variety of price points.

Instead of stressing yourself out of academic writing that you need, employ the services of Essay-bag.com today to receive your professional, well-written documents.

Have you used an academic or essay writing service in the past? What tips can you give other readers on making the interaction a success? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.

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7. Birthday Celebration: The Day of my Bone Marrow Transplant

"My how time flies." That's one of the most overused phrases, but it's one that is so very true. The more our society speeds up, has more to do and continues to get more advanced technologically to help make everything faster then the more time flies. It's a vicious, time-warp-like cycle. (Kind of like the time warp that's between the time you grab your keys to leave the house and get in the car. If you're like me then you swear it only took you three to five minutes, but the clock says 10 to 20 minutes.)

With everything passing so quickly we tend to miss a lot.There are some of us who are making a concerted effort to take time for the special moments. It's something I try to do as well. I'm not always successful in acknowledging important occasions hence the reason I missed my birthday.

Not the day of my birth. I missed the chance to celebrate and honor the day I was given the opportunity to begin life again. A healthier life. It's the day I had a bone marrow transplant: December 24, 2014.

The month of December is a little hazy for me because I was packing to move again (the second time in about three months) and the circumstances surrounding the move weren't pleasant. I was resistant to the move and could not get into a place that I wanted. And the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate Christmas, but the children are always extra excited about the holiday so I focused on packing and present purchasing.

Early in 2013

It wasn't until about a month ago when it dawned on me that I didn't acknowledge the day. What would I have done had I taken the time then? More than likely I would have prepared a special meal or taken us out to dinner and definitely had dessert. I would talk with the children about the importance of the day and go around the table asking each of them what is different compared to the same time last year - in 2013 - or even the year prior.

I was lethargic, in severe pain 90 percent of the time, having fibromyalgia and Sjogren's attacks, I was unable to complete household tasks and run errands, and I spent the majority of my time laying, sitting and lounging on the couch. If I didn't keep my legs elevated they would swell uncontrollably and my feet would throb. I couldn't even walk through the grocery store or Walmart without my back or hips giving out and being so out of breath that sitting down was immediately imperative. I was taking 20+ pills each day and going to the doctor several times each week.

Early 2015 - before my hair started growing back. Yup, it's a wig.
Now, 15 months later, I take less than 15 pills each day. That may not seem like a big difference to some, but for someone with chronic illnesses, it's a bright flashlight on a dark path. I can walk through a store - even a big one - most of the time without stopping and that's amazing to me. Thank goodness, my back hasn't given out in many months and my hip rarely gives me any trouble. I sit up more, I do more, I play more, I laugh more... and I live more.

I. Live. More.

I am thankful for the transplant - even though I questioned if it was the right choice - and my medical professionals, especially my oncology team. I am thankful for my massage and physical therapists, psychiatrist and psychologists, the support groups as well as for each and every person who had anything to do with assisting me in my recovery. Special thanks to my caregivers - my daughter Amber, my best friend Frankie and my mommy - all of whom sacrificed their time and money to be with me in Tennessee during my treatment, transplant and recovery.

Mid 2015 - after my hair started growing back.
The difference between now and then is remarkable. I thought I would feel horrible forever. There are a lot of things that I still need to achieve and I'm still in recovery. I'm working on my strength in all areas and I still have physical setbacks after too much exertion. 

Happy Belated Birthday to me. I'm 15 months old. Won't you celebrate with me?

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8. Where to find writing gigs (quick, easy version)

If you know me or have been following me for awhile then you know that I'm always doing something. Selling JewelScent candles, sharing It Works products as well as the company and my writing. Among it all, you know that writing is what I like to do the most. It makes me happy, I'm good at it and plus I have a degree in Journalism so I'm serious about it.

About me

I've been a writer for more than 20 years (I've lost count). I started off in daily newspaper then a weekly newspaper and a monthly news magazine, onto monthly publications and freelancing. My freelancing turned into blogging and web content. That's probably the quickest and easiest explanation of my career I've ever done that covers the 20 plus years. I haven't realized all of my writing dreams and goals, but I'm well on my way to still seeing them come into fruition. As a freelancer, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with other writing projects while you're trying to make a buck and if you have a family and other commitments it makes the task even that much tougher. But, it's still possible. It definitely takes perseverance.

And connections!

Where are the gigs?

It's easy, so to speak, when you work fulltime in the publishing industry to get in touch with other contacts in the form of editors, writers, photographers and other creatives. When you're a freelancer, if you haven't made a name for yourself, then it can be a little tricky. Here's a quick and dirty version of where the writing gigs are: 

I'm sure you're familiar with the big ones like Huffington Post, etc., so we don't needed to cover those. It's some of the little ones that you may miss. If you can afford not to worry about getting paid then write something for a blog that's accepting guest posts. If you want to get paid, but don't have experience then I hate to say it, but you should start there as well. Submit your ideas to ask.com, Huffington Post and the like. The most important thing is regardless of where you are looking to share your writing you must follow their writers guidelines. If you neglect to do that then nine times out of 10 you'll get a rejection.

When it comes to freelancing for print publications following the guidelines is also key, but like most online publications the print sisters also normally have their guidelines on their website. Follow them specifically. And, among anything else, keep writing. Researching, writing and creating all the time are the keys to continually getting better.

It really comes down to searching for the right gig for you. Whether you call your friend who knows a guy that's an editor at a magazine or you read a LinkedIn profile of a blogger and you'd like to submit content, you're going to have to do your research. There are sites like writerjob.com that may make your search a little easier, but keep in mind that whatever information you discover through any site should be thoroughly researched. You don't want to waste your time. Time equals money. Period.

Whether you're going to write books, articles, posts, poems, scripts, novels... you get the point... just make sure it's what makes you happy. Good luck writing!

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9. So Charming: Perfect Gift for Girls #review

I always get excited when it's time to shop for one of my girls because there are so many fabulous choices in such an array of colors. Whether it's clothing, toys, books, games or jewelry, you're sure to find something special for your little lady. One of my favorite choices right now are Sweet Charm Elegance's deliciously fun charms.

Now, just in time for Spring, they're introducing some more realistic looking ice cream baked charms (chocolate, raspberry, and orange cream). The last time they released charms, we chose the Wedding Cake Charm and a gorgeous slice of rainbow birthday cake - their bestseller. My tween daughter, Amareah, is fascinated by her Sweet Charm Elegance charms and bracelet and I'm more than happy to continue to add to her collection.

Sweet Charm Elegance's almost-realistic treats... uh, charms... are great for young girls ages ---- and those young at heart. I was perusing their site and found some bling that's ideal to add to my own Spring wardrobe. I mean, Most of the charms are priced at $12 each, but you'll find a few at $10 and there are also other goodies waiting for you.

We really love charms around here: My oldest daughter recently received a Pandora bracelet as a gift (I'm so jealous! LOL) and we're also in love with CHARM IT! Detachable Charm Jewelry for Girls. (Click the link to read my review.) Easter is March 27th this year and the Sweet Charm Elegance charms are perfect to add to Easter baskets or eggs.

My review

The quality of these little charms is without question A+ and the details will have you staring at these goodies in awe and admiration. Best of all is the fact that they're a hit with the girls. Not only am I drooling over them, but when Amareah saw she had two more charms she seemed to sparkle with excitement, which is exactly the reaction you want when presenting a gift.

About Sweet Charm Elegance 

It all started when they "discovered" clay about a year ago. They are always up to trying something new and started playing around and created different types of charms. "First, came the sweet stuff; fruits, candy, cakes, pies, you name it. Pretty soon, Sweet Charms quickly expanded to fashion, foods and animals... My tea pots charms are my biggest draw!."

They also added to the collection when the designer happened to get a beautiful free gift of gorgeous vintage Swarovski crystals. "I quickly learned how to create all different types of jewelry. With its distinct cuts, Swarovski is one of the most recognizable brands in the jewelry business. Each crystal  is handled carefully as pieces are created...Swarovski crystals have some serious sparkle to them!  Like anything, we are constantly learning new techniques and follow jewelry trends."

"At Sweet Charm Elegance, we create jewelry inspired by all things that are sweet, sparkly and shiny! All designs are handmade, using the highest quality crystals. Most of our elegant line offer color options for weddings, bridal showers, proms, or any big event. We exclusively use Swarovski Crystals and freshwater (dyed and undyed) pearls. "Made With Love", each piece reflects Sweet Charms personal style."

Visit Sweet Charm Elegance ("Handmade jewelry for the sweet and elegant") online and take a look at all of their little goodies. Believe me, you'll have a hard time clicking away without making a purchase.

Do you have someone in mind that would love some charm jewelry?

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10. Last-minute Super Bowl snack with Garden Lites & Jarlsberg

You may not realize this but for millions of Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest food holidays of the years. Instead of resorting to the same old fatty, greasy, unhealthy snacks and food why not make a healthier noshing choice?

Lucky for you, I have an answer for you. Try Garden Lites Muffins and Garden Lites Broccoli & Brown Rice Veggie Bites. I received coupons to try these little goodies, but they have been misplaced during my move and I haven't tried them yet. However, that doesn't make me any less excited to recommend them to you because I've heard good things about them. And, I'll write a review at a later date.

Garden Lites Broccoli Bites
“Garden Lites Muffins and Garden Lites Bites are always a crowd pleaser during the Big Game Day party, and now you can indulge your sweet tooth without post-game remorse,” says Julie Gould, brand manager for Garden Lites. 
Instead of just plopping down a package of the package of chocolate muffins you can make Oozy Boozy Mudslide Cupcakes (for legal drinking age - 21+! - game watchers only). 

Oozy Boozy Mudslide Cupcakes

Step 1: Heat Chocolate Muffins according to package directions.
Step 2: Brush Kahlua ontop top of muffin and allow to cool.
Step 3: Top with Bailey's Frosting
Step 4: Enjoy responsibly!
Bailey's Frosting
1/2 cup Butter (1 sticks), softened
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  1. Cream butter in mixer
  2. Gradually add Powdered Sugar until blended
  3. Stir in Irish Cream, Vanilla Extra, and Salt
  4. Blend until smooth and creamy

Yields: 12 cupcakes

Whoopie Pie Glites
Another great choice is the easy 3-step Whoopie Pie that'll be a favorite for both young and old Super Bowl partiers. You can find the recipe and a few others on the Garden Lites recipe page.

Go ahead and run to the store now to stock your freezer so you don't have to run to the store for refills during halftime. You can find Garden Lites Muffins just about anywhere you shop. They come in a box of four for abot $3.99, which is the same price for a single-serve package. Check the frozen section at Walmart, Target, Publix and Whole Foods among others. Visit GardenLites.com for a complete retailer list and more information. When you replace fatty snack for healthy one, you'll have a win-win on game day!

Another treat to add to your Game Day food platter is Jarlsberg Cheese because they have a cheese for every occasion. It's the classic wedge, first created in 1956, offers a slightly nutty, mild and delicious taste. This cheese is naturally lactose and gluten free and it is the right pairing for any meat of your choice. Not the classic wedge-type person, no worries it'salso available in slices. Jarlsberg® Hickory Smoked Pre-Sliced Cheese is sure to please every member of your family and any friends visiting for your party. 

For those who need a lighter choice, try Jarlsberg® Lite, a reduced fat Swiss cheese that has a mild, nutty mellow flavor and is also naturally lactose and gluten free. You can also pick up the mini versions that make for easier consumption and balancing on tiny party plates and napkins. 

Either way you go you'll have yummy, healthy choices to take your Super Bowl party over the top. 

Do you watch the Super Bowl or participate in Game Day activities? Share your traditions and idea in the comments below.

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11. #2015 Reflections, 3 Easy Tips to Rock the New Year

At the same time every year on this day around this time, my mind spins with everything that happened over the past year. This reflection messes with my emotions; I'm caught somewhere between sadness, relief, joy, expectation, hope and anger. This year I'm going to take the time to make this moment feel a little better for me. Let's review...

What's Been Happening

The past two years have been one heck of a wild ride. In December 2013, my doctors told me that the multiple myeloma was back. That started me on a very, long winding road with hills and valleys that ended in a bone marrow transplant on December 24ish, 2014. So January 1, 2015, I had high hopes for the new year. I was weak, swollen, sore and excited. I was back home from Tennessee where I received my treatment and I couldn't wait for my children to come home to a new a well mommy (less than 1 percent cancer cells!). 

I was ready to sit down, get organized and make some plans. I was going to exercise, rest, take care of myself so I would be stronger and healthier by the time summer arrived. The first summer I would start to feel better, I thought. But on the second day after my return, my ex-husband sued me for child support and custody. The stress of that took a toll on my body and the focus was off of my healing and recuperating and on the pending court battle.

That summer my apartment flooded, I didn't find a place in time and spent four weeks sleeping on the floor of my granddaughter's room. I finally find a place at the end of October and by the end of November something happened that resulted in me having to move again (this is a well-kept secret of mine), I've had the date extended and my final date to be out of my current apartment is January 15th.

Oh, and let us not forget the car accident I got into last week on December 22nd. With the unplanned move, having to get a new car (my van was a total loss), recuperating from the accident and a pending lawsuit, 2016 is going to start out very hectic and stressful.

How to Handle the New Year

I'm going to do my darnest to start this new year differently: Since I already know what's coming I can prepare myself mentally and emotionally. Tomorrow, I'm going to push myself to start doing yoga again, I'm going to have my Vision Board and my Dream Board up and ready to remind me of my goals. And I'm going to work my It Works! and writing businesses to a degree that success is the only option. 

As you look to the new year, take a moment to reflect, pray, meditate, relax and breath. You probably have a lot going on like I do so let's review three easy tips about how to handle the new year.

  1. Some people can hit the ground running, but if you're not that kind of person you can get overwhelmed with all the goals you've set for the new year. If that's the case, instead of making a Dream Board for your entire year make one that gives you targets and goals to get there for each month. You can make a board for each month or get a poster board or corkboard for this.
  2. Even though you have your Dream Board or Vision Board with what you're going to be doing, you'll need to break it down into actionable steps. Put those steps in writing on your daily planner. 
  3. Don't forget to put yourself on your planner. Not just the days or dates you're going to workout, but the fun days like dates with your children or significant others. Write down that picnic in the park or pizza night with the family. Whatever activities and treats that make you happy make note of them.
Happy New Year... Let's rock 2016.

Do you make a Vision or Dream Board? Please share one important dream or goal in the comments and I'll respond by sharing mine.

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12. Last-minute Snack Tip for your New Year's Eve Party #GardenLites

New Year's Eve and Super Bowl parites are normally a time for indulging in fatty, sugary and calorie-rich foods, but why not “swap it?” Replace those empty, sugary calories with clean, nutritious eating. Take this last-minute snack tip into the New Year for a healthy change to an unhealthy season. 

Garden Lites®, The Delicious Vegetable Company, debuts all new veggie-rich products to make surviving this unhealthy season not just bearable, but delicious. This is a good way to start the New Year especially if you've resolved to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Staying healthy while snacking doesn’t have to mean sacrificing taste. If you're like me then you have difficulty eating your recommended daily servings of veggies, but with Garden Lites® they've made it easy with their veggie rich foods including:

Garden Lites® Nickelodeon Ninja Power Muffins, 
Original Garden Lites® Muffins, 
Garden Lites® Veggie Bites, and 
(New!) Garden Lites® Mac & Cheese

These flavors offer healthy options for every occasion to assist you and your family in staying healthy this season because at Garden Lites® the first ingredient in everything is a vegetable. 

Garden Lites® rich foods are allergy-free foods, Non-GMO and Gluten-free. Their approach involves adding vegetables into familiar flavors and formats, along with fiber, protein and other important ingredients.

What do you think? Gonna replace some of your snacks with this healthier version?

Stay tuned for a review about the Garden Lites goodies.

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13. Get Ready to Celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day, January 27th #ReadYourWorld

Ever since I had my first child almost 25 years ago, I have believed what children view, read and play with should "look like them." When I was a young girl, the majority of the images I saw were not multicultural - and I noticed. I did not want that to be something my children noticed or even thought about. Although today things are markedly different we're still lacking and that's what makes Multicultural Children's Book Day important to me. Mark your calendars for January 27, 2016, to celebrate, discuss and share Multicultural Children's Book Day. 

About Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCCBD)

I am honored to be one of the writers paired with an author to highlight their book and share about Multicultural Children's Book Day. I received a complimentary copy of My Forgotten Self: A Story About a Girl, a Powerful Encounter, and a Universal Message by Lynettea G. Willis, Ph.D. (Any opinions expressed are my own. Please read my complete disclosure policy for more information.)

The mission of the MCCBD is to not only raise awareness for children’s books that celebrate diversity; but to get also more of these books into classrooms and libraries. It is important to have diversity in children's literature. Young readers need to see themselves with the pages of books, and other media, they read and they need to be able to experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions. 

The MCCBD team encourages readers, parents, teachers, caregivers, and librarians to follow along with the event details, author visits, and fun book reviews by following a multicultural children's book linky and via their hashtag #ReadYourWorld on Twitter and other social media. I'm going to follow with my children; I really enjoy opening up the world for them.

Book Review


As I mentioned, I received the book My Forgotten Self and I could not wait to share it with my children. My girls - Amareah, 10 and Anna, 8 - were the only two home at the time so I read the book to them. A lot of times I'll just give books to them to read, but I really wanted to participate in the reading of the book.

The first thing of note are the illustrations throughout the book, which are done by Michele Phillips. They are glorious depictions of the story in a soft and somehow simultaneously vibrant way. The detail of the character's imagination are depicted and the consistency of her look as she grows is spectacular.

The second thing I noticed was that I could relate, from the very beginning, with Tiev, the little girl we read about in the book. Tiev loved to think about the many things she wanted to do in life and who she wanted to be when she grew up. Doesn't that sound familiar? I don't know any child who doesn't daydream about what they want to be when they grow up. I was one of those children, and from the beginning of the book, I could tell my daughters were interested in how the story would progress.

Throughout the book, Tiev decided on different paths she wanted to take like being a mother or an explorer. Whenever she shared her decisions with family members they gave her all the reasons why she could not be what she wanted to be. My 10-year-old daughter Amareah started getting a bit miffed at all the negativity Tiev was getting from her family. I heard her mumble, "She can be anything she wants to be."

When Tiev encounters a powerful, loving Being she is able to see who she really is, who she can be and the gifts within her. Isn't that how things go? Whether it's people in our lives who are unwittingly trying to discourage us or our own negative, interval voices wreaking havoc, it can seem like we can't get a leg up. But when we focus on that higher power, that inner voice we can realize amazing things about ourselves.

Last thing I noticed, the book touched my heart and it moved my daughters as well. This may be a book geared toward young people, but it is one that will resonate with all of us. 

                                  "Do not let others define what they did not create... 
You are a treasure... Remember this now and forever!" 
My Forgotten Self book, scheduled release: February 6, 2016

About the book per MyForgottenSelf.com: 

"Tiev, is a young girl who decides to dream about her path in life.  Her dreams are vivid and exciting; however, when she shares them with her well-intentioned family they quickly tell her why she cannot be any of the things her heart desires.  Feeling lost, hurt and confused, Tiev, encounters a being, I Am.  Tiev and I Am embark on an amazing journey wherein Tiev learns who she truly is and the gifts inherent in each of her desired paths."  

Event Information

Co-creators of the event: Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can view their bios on the MCCBD site.

Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld

CoHosts: Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing co-hosts and you can view them here.

Don't forget to visit Multicultural Children's Book Day site for more information and take a look at Willis' site, My Forgotten Self.

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14. Jarlsberg® Cheese & Charcuterie Party Kit Contest

There are only 12 days remaining to enter the Jarlsberg® Cheese Great Holiday Giveaway and you don't want to miss out. Jarlsberg® Cheese is the nationally recognized, premium brand of cheese, and they're celebrating the holidays with this simple and festive contest where you can win great prizes for holiday entertaining. 

The grand prize of the Great Holiday Giveaway is (1) Sony DSLR Camera and (8) Charcuterie Party Kits (1 kit per week) beginning November 1 and running through December 31, 2015. So, you see, it isn't too late to enter. Entering is simple: Visit Jalsbergusa on Facebook for your chance to win and be sure to return each day for another entry. 

Winners will be notified by email. 

Whether you win or not – try serving your guests a Jarlsberg® Cheese and Charcuterie Platter. Here's what you'll need:

  • Jarlsberg® Cheese (wedge or any flavor or style you desire) cut into chunks and/or roll slices
  • Assortment of whole grain crackers, chips or pretzels
  • Crusty bread; cut into slices
  • Chunks of Italian Genoa Salami or other Charcuterie meats
  • Black Olives
  • Assorted nuts
  • Dried fruits
Then assemble your ingredients on a large wooden board and serve. Don’t forget the toothpicks and utensils.  And, of course, feel free to use your creativity by adding jams, fruits or other snacks.

“We all love to share our festive spirit with our friends and family during the holiday, but let’s face it, this can be a stressful time,” says Debbie Seife, General Manager Marketing. “A Jarlsberg® Cheese and Charcuterie Platter is perfect: you can arrange it ahead of time, serve it and actually stay at your party and enjoy the fun!”

You'll love the yummy, nutty flavor of Jarlsberg Cheese during the holidays or anytime you want a taste. COMING SOON: Stay tuned for a review of Jarlsberg Cheese; I'll give you the details on taste, texture and uses.

Don't forget to enter the contest for your chance to win. Just go to the Facebook app to enter.

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15. Students & Professionals boost your writing skills

When we read others' work we want it to be well-written and easy to understand, the same goes for when we’re doing our own writing. Having good writing skills is a must, but sometimes we may need a little help to get it done. Garner a few tips from this guest post about writing skills.

Most Professional Careers Depend on Written Communication

Whether you are a college student or a corporate manager, the fact remains that in either circumstance you will need excellent writing skills in order to succeed. We are introduced to the importance of obtaining good writing skills at an early age in order to help prepare for our progression through life. 

When applying for college, students are required to submit a written essay in addition to the application. This writing sample is considered the first of many for college students since just about every college course requires written tasks to determine how much of the study material has been comprehended by the student. It is no longer acceptable to simply record information without communicating why the topic is interesting, factual and relevant to today’s world. Writing should be viewed as a way to convey something which is meaningful and helpful to those who are going to read your work. However, in order to write in such a way, it is important for you to fully understand any topic being written by performing extensive research in order to gain a complete understanding of the topic. Though many forms of written communication are assigned or required, your ultimate goal is to provide clear explanations for the topic you’re covering.

The Importance of Well-Written Content

While doing research for any topic, it is important to utilize sources that are accurate and factual. There is an abundance of incorrect information on the Internet, which makes it doubly important to verify your sources and the information provided. Whether you are a working professional or college student, as a successful writer it is your responsibility to obtain the correct information. When inaccurate facts are used in your essay this could result in an inferior piece of work which might be rejected by your superiors. In other words, it is best to seek out scholarly sources when researching any topic. Consider using materials and resources that cite their sources. Not only could this help you obtain the evidence you need to successfully complete a written assignment, having trustworthy sources of research could increase your understanding. It is important to consider that the more knowledge you are able to obtain, the more success your reader will have in understanding your written communication.

 Share your ideas with others

In the King James Version of the Holy Bible there is a scripture that reads, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” This means you can have victory, or success, when you consult others. So, in this instance, it could be helpful to discuss your source material with your peers so they can guide you in ensuring the material being used will add value to your essay or article. Discussing new ideas with others will also allow you to look more objectively at your work, thereby ensuring that you have not overlooked something of importance. Finding the perfect structure for your essay or article adds more value to your writing than many people realize. You want those who read your written work to be able to clearly identify the focus points while understanding the importance of every aspect that has to be explained. You want your readers to be impacted by your style of writing and the accuracy of the details you’ve gathered through credible sources. Though it requires a substantial amount of attention to detail, article and essay writing is an important skill that can be successfully developed into a perfect art form with years of practice.

Finding professional help

Though there are many people who are very skilled professionally, some of these individuals simply do not possess the best writing skills. And in other instances, individuals just do not have the time to compose a successfully written essay or article.  Because of this many professional writing companies have been established in order to cater to the needs of these often busy professionals and, for that matter, students. One of these companies is AdvancedWriters, a research paper writing service, which is a company that prides itself on the ability to assist any person with their article or essay regardless of the required sources or topic. Customwritings.com has a very large number of professional writers that are able to provide content of outstanding quality. All articles or essays produced by this company will always be original content presented in a format that is compatible with the needs of the client. At CustomWritings.com the needs of the client is a priority and great care is taken to ensure that the client is satisfied with the end result.

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16. How to Relax During the Holidays with Natural Calm

Disclosure: I received a complimentary sample of Natural Calm to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own. Read my complete disclosure policy for more information.

Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays, it's almost guaranteed that it will be a busy time. With shopping to do, parties to plan, relatives to welcome, halls to deck, gifts to wrap... this list is almost endless... our days and nights are filled with activity. For some of us, it's a load of fun and we bound through it energetically, but on the other side of the Christmas ornament, there are those of us who are bumbling along and stressed out.

There are several things we can do to relax and recenter ourselves. In fact, I've written a few posts about it in the past. Check out one on How to Zap Stress. In addition to the tried and true methods, I had the opportunity to review a product that promotes a calm and healthy wellbeing, Natural Calm, the Anti-Stress Drink from Natural Vitality, which is a magnesium supplement.

About Natural Calm and Magnesium

I'm sure you're wondering, as I was, 'Why do I need another something and why magnesium?' Magnesium (a mineral) is involved in hundreds of activities in our bodies. It's responsible for the balance of our nervous system, muscle relaxation, supports the integrity of our bones as well as heart health, blood sugar control, proper bowel functioning and energy production. When we have a lack of magnesium on the cellular level all of these processes can slow down causing a sluggish feeling. Since our body doesn't manufacturer minerals like it does vitamins, they must be regularly consumed and in sufficient amounts.

What does magnesium have to do with relaxing? You may be as surprised as I was to learn that it's known as the "anti-stress" mineral. It works to relax your muscles, nerves and blood vessels. It counter-balances calcium, which signals muscles to contract and excites nerves. The two should be properly balanced and if they aren't that in and of itself can be a source of stress.

Natural Calm is touted as being the best-selling magnesium supplement on the market for nine years consecutively as proved by 2015 SPINS data taken from health-food supermarket scanner reports. It features a propreietary forumula providing highly absorbable and water-soluable magnesium in ionic form so it works right away. "It's nature's way of restoring balance so you can find your inner calm and enjoy an improved level of health and calmfulness in your life," according to the Be Naturally Calm brochure.

My Take on Natural Calm

Everything the product's originators claim about magnesium can easily be verified with your physician or from an Internet search so we don't have to worry about that. So let's get down to my opinion. Normally when I review a food product or supplement the first things I think about are the smell and taste. I received the raspberry lemon flavor and, because it's in powder form, I already had my nose twisted in distaste. I guess that's the kid in me.

My turned up nose was all for naut. Natural Calm is a very fine powder that, as I mentioned, is easily dissolvable. It smells great - just like fresh lemons and raspberries - and the taste is wonderful. Depending on how much you use (the instructions recommend starting off with the lowest dose) will determine how strong the flavor is. So far I have tried it alone in a cup of hot water and in a cup of Zen tea. It is definitely enjoyable both ways.

The effects are almost immediate; I wasn't even finished with my first cup before I began to feel naturally relaxed. There are no side effects and it seemed as if my sleep was definitely better the first night I used it. The way I judged this was I had been sleeping horribly for about three weeks and the night I drank that I slept soundly.

Surprisingly, this calming beverage can also have the effect of increasing productivity and focus so it doesn't have an effect that will make you sleepy. It's ideal after your morning cup of coffee or for a midday energy boost. It is supplementing something that your body naturally uses and, unlike calcium, you can't "overdose" on it. Any magnesium that your body doesn't use is naturally secreted.

As I was finishing this post, I sipped a cup of Natural Calm with a dollop of honey and I not only felt good about drinking it; I also feel good about recommending it to you. With Christmas only nine days away you're definitely going to need some "calmfulness."

What's your favorite way to relax?

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17. Why I Chose It Works! and Why You Should too

Thirty years ago there was a young lady who had a dream of becoming a well-known - if not famous - novelist and a world-renowned journalist. She dreamt of nice clothes, houses, and cars, well-dressed children, private schools, vacations, and trips home to visit family.

She had many small dreams. Now, she's 47 years old and even her smallest dreams haven't come true. Well, we can say she was once a nationally-known freelance writer ("known" probably isn't the correct word) who has written for publications across the United States. And she was at least a known Georgia journalist... you can see where this is going, right?

In the middle of those endeavors she's done other things to take care of her responsibilities including serving in the Air Force, substitute teaching, hosting writer's workshops and performed editing and writing duties for individuals, companies and organizations. Currently, she's a blogger, which happened to be a natural evolution from a print to a virtual writer, and she's an It Works! Distributor.

You've figured out we're talking about me, right?
That's the short and open-ended version of me and what I've been doing. Oh, sidebar, I forgot to mention I'm also a JewelScent consultant. (Check out the latest smell good candle with a jewel inside in the sidebar.) 

With mostly writing aspirations, you may be wondering why I've chosen a path that clearly has absolutely nothing to do with writing. For me, It Works! is a vehicle on my path that's going to help me to get where I want to be. Make sense?

This is my middle daughter Amareah; she's 10 years old.

The trio! My youngest Anna (8), my son Andre (12)
& Amareah! My young loves.
 Let me tell you what I need:
Funds to purchase whatever I or the children need exactly when we need it. (Those are all of my babies - one grandbaby - you see in the pictures in this post.)
At least one family vacation a year. 
My semi-dream house. 
The ability to hire specific professionals when I need or want to. A new vehicle.
A break.
My granddaughter, Autumn (she's 3 already),
and her wonderful mommy, my oldest daughter Amber.

That last point is most important to me right now. Although I'm feeling so much better since I've begun my recovery from the stem cell transplant. (If you're new here you probably aren't familiar with my fight with multiple myeloma.) The problem is I haven't regained all of my strength and I have to be careful of other setbacks as it relates to the fibromyalgia and Sjogren's syndrome.

I know what you're thinking: What does all of this have to do with It Works! A lot actually. This is my story, where I'm starting and there's the place where I need to go and I see It Works! helping me to get there. How?
  1. I can make as much money as I work for.
  2. I can work from anywhere using just my phone.
  3. I belong to a great team and can make new friends every day.
  4. And I believe in the products.
It's really that simple.

My only boy... he's turning into a young man so quickly.
Now, what are your dreams? Just name the top 3. What would you do if those dreams could be a reality in as little as a year or less? I want to help you reach those dreams and all you have to do is join my team. There's a spot waiting for you.

You're curious about what you'd be doing, right?

You'll be a rep/distributor for It Works! Global. We offer a variety of products made from natural ingredients for improving overall health, weight loss, and skin care. 

I work from my cell phone on social media (putting up the posts you've seen on my Facebook & Instagram account), grow my followers, talk to people and answer any of their questions about the products, and when they are ready to order I show them how to do it on my website. The company ships the product to them and I get paid! 

I also do this through personal group appointments and/or parties as well as with people I know and meet. We basically get paid to talk to people. The more people you talk to, the more your business grows, the more money you make!

Let's reach our dreams together; email me to get started petulawrites (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment below with your contact information and I can get in touch with you. If you aren't interested in the business opportunity and would like to purchase something for your health and wellbeing or as a gift for someone else, leave a comment below.

Whatever you decide, I appreciate you taking the time to read this. While you're here click on a couple of links in this post to explore some of the other things I write about.

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18. How to love yourself with 'Me, Myself & I' by Cheryl S. Bridges

Disclosure: I received a complimentary digital copy of Cheryl Bridge’s book “Me, Myself, & I ~ 28 Days of Creative Self-Love”. My opinion and my inner wisdom are authentic and 100% my own. For more, please read my complete disclosure policy.

In the true form of someone who doesn't want to take time for themselves, I procrastinated in reviewing "Me, Myself & I: 28 Day of Creative Self-Love" by Cheryl S. Bridges. It's not that I didn't want to do the work; in fact, I was excited about it, it mainly had to do with taking the time to slow down.

I know shame on me.

"Me, Myself & I: 28 Day of Creative Self-Love" is 
"more than just a book! It's a multi-dimensional exploration about how we can learn to love all of the different parts of ourselves (including the parts that are hard to love). The book includes inspiring pictures and artwork, links to uplifting music, plus creative exercises and journaling reflections that will empower you to bring more self-love into your life. More than that, this book offers you an invitation to open up and reconnect with the beauty of who you really are."

I started with Day 1. Well, honestly, I started with Day 1 then tried to skip to a different day that I thought would be easier. I had to give myself a kick and go back to day 1 to begin my self-love journey begins with the mirror technique. This requires you to look deeply into your eyes, take in how you look and reflect love from within to yourself. Then you say to your image, "I love you, ______." So, I say, "I love you, Petula Renee Lloyd" and I giggle and sort of make a face. I repeat this a few times until it doesn't feel quite as awkward as it did when I began.

Moving on in the exercise, I have to speak to myself and say all the things I like about myself including physical features, but mostly focusing on traits like, "I love that I am bold" or "I love that I'm confident."

Then you're directed to take a moment to reflect on your day and think of five to 10 things you're proud that you accomplished that day, and say them aloud: "I'm proud I was able to reprimand the children without yelling." "I am proud that I cleaned out the junk drawer." Be sure to say these things with a lot of love, take a deep breath and receive the love.

Now return to speaking love into yourself by saying, "I love you, ________" and relish in the love you're feeling. You're going to do this every day for the 28 days.

This was a tough exercise for me. I am absolutely uncomfortable with talking to myself in that manner and telling myself I'm proud and I have no idea why, which is something about myself that I'll explore at a later time. Although it may take a minute to get myself together in order to explore deeper within myself by following a guide such as this, I'm always interested in improving myself and understanding me better. That makes "Me, Myself & I: 28 Days of Creative Self-Love" at the top of my list of books to help me with that task.

What I love about the book

This book is creative and fun to read and is written in a way that sounds like one girlfriend talking to another. Bridges has also written in a very clear way on how to use the book and what different things mean in the book. For instance, if you're reading it on an e-reader or laptop, you're able to click on links to accompany you through the book. The music notes link to a playlist that she's set up on YouTube. It's easily accessible through the notes or by typing the link directly into your browser. The same goes for the artwork, just access the link to enjoy full-sized images of the artwork, photographs and memes.

What you'll love about the book

It's very simple really: You'll learn to love yourself, and who wouldn't be in love that with? 

Check out CreativeSelfLove.com to learn more about the book and click the image below to purchase a copy for yourself or someone you love:

About Cheryl Bridges

Cheryl, an Intuitive Counselor and a Quaker Minister, has spent her life exploring the healing power of creativity and the inner spirit. She believes creativity is the key to discovering and expressing who we are. Before she launched her quest to find where creativity and self-love meet, Cheryl served as a change consultant and a hospital/hospice chaplain. She speaks globally, facilitates workshops and teaches college classes around the topics of creativity, vocation and self-understanding. Cheryl, who has a B.S. in Business and Economics and a Master of Divinity degree, enjoys life with her spouse Tracey at their lakeside home in North Carolina. 

Join Cheryl and others in this journey of self-love by following #CreativeSelfLove and Cheryl on the following platforms:

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19. Why I Feel Like a Little Green Monkey

That little green monkey seems sorta symbolic of how this transition - our move - has been. I found this tiny fellow, a tortured and abandoned eraser, on the ground outside of the storage area where my belongings were stored for the past 30 days or so. He sort of represents how I feel sometimes: well-loved, a little broken, sometimes forgotten and loss.

I am well loved by my family (especially my children) and close friends, but sometimes they forget to check up on you or forget what you're dealing with. I guess that should be: They forget to check up on me and forget what I'm dealing with. I'm feeling a little broken with the additional pain I've been going through from the move and then having to get everything situated here.

And then there's the feeling of loss. 

It probably has to do with anxiety. You know that feeling when you walk into a room and are overwhelmed by what you see? Of having so much to do it doesn't feel like you can tackle it? Then, having so much to do before you can do the other things you need to do... Does that make any sense at all?

Yup, I got all of that from the loss little, green monkey. Who, by the way, I grabbed up and put in my pocket.

What are the subtle symbols in your life that may be giving you a clue into how you're feeling?

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20. The Kabob Skewers Rack is a must-have for grilling (indoors and outdoors) #review

For some of you the weather is getting a bit too cool for outdoor grilling, but if you're a die-hard, year-round griller then you'll appreciate the Kabob Skewers Rack. As a  matter of fact, even if you'll only be cooking from your kitchen you can still use the skewer set for an amazing grilled-inspired meal.

The Kabob Skewers Rack, a product of Cave Tools, has the ideal clearance to keep your food from sticking on barbecue grates and pans or cookie sheets. Each skewer is equipped with a simple food removal disc that makes it easy to slide your food off the skewer. 

During the cooking process, you're able to completely rotate the flat skewers into eight positions allowing for the perfect rotisserie as compared to flat barbecue sticks that only keep the food in one place - well, two if you consider top and bottom. 

Since we've been bunking at my daughter's place I "conned" her into making kabobs one night. Because she lives on a second-floor apartment and a chill was in the air she made them in the oven. The food went onto the skewers easily and slid off just as easily using the discs. And, most importantly, they cooked evenly thanks to the square skewers to easily turn them and they tasted amazing.

We put a variety of combinations of food on the skewers including chicken, yellow and red peppers, zucchini, red onions and some had beef on them. Once we were finished enjoying the kabobs (over rice) they were easy to wash and store. The Kabob Skewers Rack has a stainless steel design and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, and it's also easy to store. You can slide the rack and skewers into a drawer or use the handy hanging loops to make storage a breeze.

Personally, I'm impressed with the rack and skewers for a few reasons. 

  1. That small bit of elevation makes the difference between food sticking to the grill or pan and it being easily removed it and ready to eat in little time.
  2. With square skewers, you're able to evenly cook the food with little effort.
  3. Easy, breezy cleanup and storage means little time in the kitchen.
Aren't you interested in purchasing your own Kabob Skewers Rack or giving it as a gift this Christmas season? There are two purchasing options. Visit CaveTools.com or Amazon to purchase. If you get your set from Amazon use the coupon code LHWJZQMZ for 15 percent off.

What kabob combinations do you enjoy?

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21. Celebrating Mini Wins with @Tastykake Minis #review

I received a complimentary box of Tastykake Minis to facilitate my review; however, any opinions expressed here are my own honest commentary. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Lately, there has been a lot going on around these parts. Although I moved from my old place my children and I are in transition. What does that mean? Quite a bit that I'm not ready to share with you right now, but I will definitely bring up at a later point. What I do want to share with you is how we used +Tastykakes to celebrate the mini win of getting all of our belongings out of the old apartment, where we were no longer comfortable.

I had been holding onto some of the Tastykake Minis to share with the kids - somehow a few disappeared (I admit to nothing!) so instead of waiting any longer I pulled out what was left to give to two of my daughters, 10-year-old Amareah and Anna who's 8. We were sitting on the floor waiting for their older sister to come back so we could finalize cleaning the apartment, but I thought a little celebration would lighten the mood.

I spread the girls' comforters and sleeping bags out on the floor for a little, spontaneous sweet picnic and we talked about how happy we were to be moving. You have to admit, every major change is made a little smoother by a yummy treat.

My children - all four of them - are always happy to test any product I receive and when it comes to chocolate you don't have to ask twice. But they are honest with their opinions so the thumb's up from Amareah and Anna's smile mean I'm sure they'll be asking for these tasty minis again.

My camera was not cooperative and only the above photo
was presentable enough to share.
In this mom's opinion, my children consume way too much sugar on a regular basis; however, with TastyKake Minis I appreciate the small size and the big taste. The size works for giving each child their own pack or for taking one pack and giving each of them one cupcake (I normally have my two daughters and my son together and they all expect their portion.) 

Although I don't usually eat packaged cupcakes I will definitely consider buying the TastyKake Minis. The taste and texture of the cupcakes is spot on (fresh and moist) and there is only a light taste of sugar. Whether I'm getting a sweet treat for myself or my children, TastyKake Minis are on the list. 

Visit Tastykake on Facebook and Instagram to see what's happening now. 

Have you tried TastyKake Minis yet? If not, will you try them now?

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22. 8 Ways to Find Joy within Life's Chaos

Finding joy... it's a topic we've talked about before and one that bears mentioning on a regular basis. On Tuesday, bestselling publisher Linda Joy released Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Cultivating Joy featuring soul-inspiring stories of 38 amazing women who share the intimate details of transformation. Cultivating Joy also includes Reflection Questions after each story which will empower you to integrate the vital lessons of each woman’s journey into your own life. For a limited time, you can get over 50 transformational gifts with your copy of Cultivating Joy. Don't wait another minute, go ahead and grab your copy today at www.CultivatingJoyBook.com

Finding joy in everyday life can be difficult for a lot of people; myself included. That's why I've written on the subject in the past and why I'm sharing this new book with you today. Lately, I have had a very hard time finding the joy. In fact, there is one thing (or should I say five things?) that's definitely giving me joy right now and that is my children and my granddaughter. That's how I find joy in motherhood, which is the fourth chapter of Cultivating Joy. From my perspective, when you engross yourself in motherhood and the joyful moments you can definitely tap into a joyful existence. 

When I watch my 3-year-old granddaughter play and express herself the joy and love I feel within for my offspring really blooms. My granddaughter also likes to cuddle up with her young aunts and uncle ages 8, 10 and 11. Watching the four of them together is, if nothing else, entertaining. And the joy I find in being the parent of a 24-year-old young woman is immeasurable. She is my best friend, my greatest ally and my biggest supporter. Without her, life would definitely be less joyful.

The 8 Ways to Find Joy within Life's Chaos comes directly from the chapters of Cultivating Joy with my understanding and opinion of what each topic means to me. As I've already mentioned, the first one is

Motherhood - See my example above.
Getting Real - For me, this means being honest with myself and others. This could involve a variety of topics, but as an example consider your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse...) when it comes to getting real. Are you expressing your true feelings? Are you being honest with them?
A New Perspective - When you take on a new perspective you'll feel more positive. For instance, something I haven't shared with many people is the fact that I am "homeless" right now. We (my younger children and myself) are staying with their older sister, her daughter and her boyfriend all in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. I've spent a lot of money in gas, resources and application fees trying to find a place for us to live. (They reason is the flood and my "move out by" date did not necessarily mean there was a place to move into.) I look at this as being a complete failure and "messing up." However, I could take on a new perspective and think of it as a way to spend more time with my daughter and her little family. I can recognize that I'm saving money and spending more quality time with my younger daughters. There are a number of ways to look at this situation with a new perspective.
Overcoming - In 1995 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and in December 2013 in resurfaced. The past almost two years I've been fighting this disease and I am now fighting the after effects of it along with those symptoms of other illnesses. Even if I don't overcome the disease, I can overcome it within. I've found that place of comfort within myself that tells me I'm an overcomer and it makes me feel like I will overcome.)

The Circle of Life - Let the image to the left speak to you.
Finding Your Bliss - I think my bliss is in the form of the organized, money-making and comfortable (physically, at least) lifestyle I'm accustomed to. It'll be when I can make jewelry and greeting cards on a regular basis and open up my Etsy shop. It'll be when I finish my novel and find a publisher for my children's books. It'll be when I feel like my life is together. But, ultimately, finding your bliss may not come with physical or material things; it can be a space and time when you relax with your favorite drink, a good book, a yummy treat and a "can't do without" friend.
Inner Connection - I'll also let this image speak to you, but I will add this: In my quest to truly find my bliss and understand myself I am on a continual journey of self-discovery. I am determined to learn from my past; not because I'm living in it, but because I don't want to repeat it.
Honoring Yourself - See the image below.

How do you cultivate joy for yourself? 
You are invited to share how you cultivate joy in the midst of everyday living in the comments below. Be sure to check out Inspired Living Publishing’s much anticipated new book, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Cultivating Joy and grab your copy today at www.CultivatingJoyBook.com  to receive over 50 transformational gifts.
CJ Order Now Graphic_great for bottom of blog posts and Facebook

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23. 6 Easy Ways to Save Money for the Holidays

This post contains affiliate links, which I earn a small portion from any purchase you make or program you sign up for. Read my complete disclosure policy.

Whether we want to believe it or not, it's already time for holiday shopping. Halloween hasn't arrived yet and we haven't enjoyed our Thanksgiving turkey, but that hasn't stopped retailers from putting out Christmas decorations and running ads about Christmas shopping. 

Just the other day when I was in Walmart to get a sketchbook I became distracted by the cutest Disney ornaments. Although I didn't purchase any ornaments (yet), the display reminded me to begin thinking about holiday shopping for the kids and, ultimately, this post to share with you. If you're like me you may not be ready to begin shopping for the holidays, but you are going to have to get over it (I did!) so you can save some money.

Here are 6 ways to save money during the holiday season:

  1. Shop early. I know this is a tried and true tip, but it never hurts to mention it. I know I need a reminder every year because I'm one of those individuals who waits until the end of November before I start shopping - sometimes later. In fact, it's seeing the ornaments on display that fueled me to get organized and start shopping.
  2. Use layaway. If you wait until the last minute layaway is not going to help you. In the long run, you're more likely to spend more money because all the deals are gone and there won't be as many things to choose from. This is especially important if you're looking for specialty or popular items. How long do you think Disney's Frozen products will last? Or Star Wars? Get it now before it's too late and put it on layaway. You'll be able to pay on it over the next two months and pick it up when you're ready to wrap gifts. I started a layaway for the children a couple of days ago. (The bike pictured above is the same brand (Huffy) and similar to the one I'm telling you about.)
  3. Shop during sales. Thanks to a sale (or in this instance, a rollback at Walmart) and layaway, I was able to put three bicycles away for my children. I really scored with one, which was more than $90 and because of a stain on the seat I'm getting it for $70. ($88 on rollback plus percentage off for stain!) I may add a couple of other items to the layaway, but at least I have the big things taken care of and the purchase price will be more manageable over the next two months.
  4. Earn cash back. If you're going to shop online, it only makes sense to shop through a site where you earn cash back. The one I use is Ebates, which is free and easy to use. You can use this resource in a few ways, but I do one of two things each time I shop. a) click on a store's link directly from the site. b) activate the Ebates toolbar and click "activate coupons" when it pops up on a retailer's site. Each store's percentage off is a bit different. For instance, Kohl's was 3% cash back and recently they raised it to 6%. You can use your cash back to buy yourself something special or put that money in your savings account for next year or an upcoming birthday.
  5. Earn gift cards. This may not appeal to everyone, but if you waste any time during your day why not spend it earning gift cards. I use Swagbucks and MyPoints. They're pretty simple to use; utilize their search engines, take surveys and read offers to earn points. Once your points are earned you can then cash them in for gift cards to popular retailers. I've earned gift cards from them as well as Bing. You just have to investigate them and see which works best for you.
  6. Save your pennies. Choose a savings program that works for you. I'm sure you're aware of them. For instance, save $1 the first week, $2 the next week, $3 the next and so on - know what I'm referring to? My oldest daughter and I chose an easy one. Starting with a penny on the first day we just add a penny for each subsequent day. If you started on October 1st you'd have 15 cents by today.

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24. 4th Annual World Kite Festival and Expo at Piedmont Park

Atlanta, Georgia - For a lot of people, cooler weather means spending more time inside. Before you snuggle down for the winter there are still fun things left to experience and enjoy outside. Coming up in a couple of weeks is The 4th Atlanta World Kite Festival and Expo for kite flying, food and fun at Piedmont Park in The Meadow.

This free event is open to the public and hosted by the City of Atlanta and Atlanta World Kite Festival and Expo, LLC. The festival was created to encourage community among the many international communities and families that make Atlanta a cultural melting pot.

It's going to be a fun, family-friendly event so everyone should bring their kites or make one there at the 2nd Annual Kite Decorating Contest or, in honor of fall, try your hand at pumpkin decorating for the 4th Annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest. There will be tons of food and entertainments for kids and those who are kids at heart. In addition to flying kites, there will be live music, international food vendors, artists and representatives  from a variety of community and non-profit organizations.

The festivities begin at 1 p.m. and last until 6 p.m. at The Meadow at Piedmont Park, which is located on the corner of 10th Street and Monroe Drive and across the street from Grady High School. Visit AtlantaWorldKiteFestival.com for more information and follow them on social media: Twitter @Ilovekites.

Tip: Register for this event in advance on Eventbrite. Admission is free (but there are tickets) and it's a good idea to purchase kite kits and kid zone passes ahead of time so all you have to worry about is having fun.

For vending and sponsorship opportunities, email [email protected] 

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25. 5 Blog Posts You Must Read

30 Things About My Invisible Illness - This week, up until Sunday the 4th, is Invisible Illness Awareness Week and I've shared 30 things about my illnesses (all invisible) that many people don't know. This post gives you a peek into my life and, if this applies to you it will give you some tips on understanding a friend or family member who is living with an invisible illness.

Photo Fixes and Fun with Fotor.com - I hate to admit it - again! - but I am pretty horrible at creating graphics and eye-eppealing photos. That's why I test out a lot of photo editing sites and programs. Hopefully, one day soon, I will master one of these online photo editing tools and right now I'm leaning toward Fotor. It's fairly easy to use and has tons of options.

What I Learned My First Year as a Grandmother - My granddaughter Autumn just turned 3 years old last month and these past three years have been amazing. The love a grandparent has for a grandchild is definitely a new experience filled with so many blessings, joys, barrels of love, concerns and a sorta weird sense of accomplishment. :-) 

Memory Lane: Thoughts of Daddy - My father passed away when I was 9 years old and it was hard on me on the young me. And, as a matter of fact, over the years it has been hard on the adult me. I still miss my daddy so much and I love sharing his memories with others.

What's a Writer to Do? 3 Tips to Deal with Life's Distractions - Regardless of where you are in life there always seems to be something distracting you from what you should be doing. I've written three tips that I think can help you deal with life's distrations.

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