Posted by: suzan | June 21, 2019

How to Have a Sane Summer with Your Kids

summer-fun-sunshine

Summer’s upon us. School’s out and you’re left wondering, what in the world do I do with my kids? If you’ve already sent your kids off to summer camp or summer school – congrats. But for those who are left with kids languishing lavishly like kings and queens on the couch playing video games and chomping on chips, I’m here to whisper to you…I feel you.

Summer is the epitome of joy for kids, or at least, school aged kids. It’s the time when they can wake up later than usual, lounge around all day if they wanted to, and not have to worry about homework. But if you’re a parent, then you know it’s also months of having bored kids fighting and arguing with you and/or their siblings and basically making you wish you never had children – I jest here, really. But never fear! I’ve collected some ideas from experts, bloggers, and friends on how to have a super sane summer this year so that you’ll want to experience it all over again next summer.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS:

Summer time is really the best time to travel with your children. They’re not in school and the weather is usually pretty decent no matter where you go. Depending on the amount of time you want to be on your trip, you can plan for a few days, a week, or even just the weekend. Regardless of the amount of time, plan ahead a bit so that you can avoid any snafus that might happen.

*** National parks are tons of fun for both kids and adults. They are great places to learn about how nature works and offer a breath of visual beauty. You can find national parks in every state and some offer cabins or lodges you can stay at.  Here are some kid-friendly parks you can visit:

Big Bend National Park – TX

What to See & Do: Designated as one of the darkest places in the country, it’s one of the best places to stargaze with your kids. It’s also filled with fossils—be sure to take your dino enthusiast to the Fossil Discovery Exhibit. There’s also plenty of hiking opportunities for families: some of the best trails for kids include the Window View, the Basin Loop, the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail and for older kids, the Lost Mine Trail is worth the trek. One of the most popular things to do in Big Bend, however, is to float the Rio Grande. There are several outfitters that offer easy, half-day floats, like this Madera to Grassy Banks option from Big Bend River Tours, which are perfect for families with young children.

Tips & When to Go: Cell service can be spotty, but free, public WiFi is available at the Panther Junction Visitor Center, the Chisos Mountains Lodge, and the Rio Grande Village Store. The best time to go is Sept.-May, as it gets very hot in the summer.

Onlinenps.gov/bibe

Yosemite National Park – CA

Famed for its granite domes and ancient sequoia trees, Yosemite is a gold mine for families.

Things to See & Do: Filled with hundreds of miles of hiking trails, two favorites include the Tuolomne Grove Nature Trail because you are rewarded with some massive Giant Sequoias, including the one you can walk through and the Mist Trail as you have the opportunity to see two waterfalls. Make sure you set aside some time to spend exploring Yosemite Village. Grab some lunch and souvenirs at the gift shop (it is huge—perfect to stock up on everything from hot cocoa to wine to grilling supplies). Take a break to watch the Spirit of Yosemite film at the visitor center to give the kids all the background info on Yosemite and how it came to be a national park.

The Yosemite Museum has hands-on exhibits where kids can learn all about the cultural history of Yosemite’s native Miwok and Paiute people from 1850 to the present. If you are lucky, you may even be able to see traditional skills presented by historians. Outside you can walk through a replica Miwok village to see how they lived.

Tips & When to Go: The park is open year-round, with seasonal activities, but May and Sep. are when it’s less crowded.

Online: https://www.yosemite.com/

Zion National Park, UT

Sandstone cliffs, slot canyons and animal wildlife are all part of the wonder of Zion National Park in Utah. You’ll want to give yourselves plenty of time at this scenic destination to take it all in.

Things to See & Do: Try a kid-friendly hike, like The Grotto Trail, Weeping Rock Trail or the Emerald Pool trail. While at the Emerald Pool trail, be sure to check out the gorgeous waterfall views. For a fun way for families to learn more about Zion together, head over to the Nature Center. Daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, youth programs specifically for children and families are offered, and last 30-45 minutes, so they’re just the right length for your mini explorers.

Tips & When to Go: Zion National Park is open year-round. Some services or facilities may have limited hours at various times of the year.

Online: nps.gov/zion

*** Local aquariums and museums are always a fun idea for kids and families. Aquariums offer an insight into how marine animals live and if you’re lucky enough to live close to the ocean, check out an aquarium with an open vista of the bay. Museums offer a glance into the history of our ancestors or the past of other cultures. There are lots of museums and aquariums tailored specifically for kids.

*** Pick-Your-Own Farms are family owned farms where you get the opportunity to pick fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. You can find small farms where the orchards contain between 20-30 trees or larger farms where you’d have to ride a wagon to cover the entire farm. For a listing of Pick-Your-Own Farms check out the listings here: https://pickyourown.farm/

STAYING AT HOME:

If you’re looking for an easy stay at home project or you’re saving money for next summer’s big trip, then there are tons of creative and entertaining activities for kids to do at home.

*** Art projects are a never-ending line of activities that kids of any age can do. All you need are the typical art supplies such as paint, glue, scratch paper or construction paper, color markers, beads, and anything you have laying around the house that you can turn into an environmentally friendly art project. Check out Michaels and Martha Stewart sites: https://www.michaels.com/projects/kids-crafts/815811845 and https://www.marthastewart.com/1502457/kids-crafts

*** Backyard/Front yard fun for those who want to play outside their house with their neighbor friends or by themselves. You can get your kids a kiddie size pool, sidewalk chalk, or lightweight sport games such as Ring Toss, Softball, and Skateboards. Just be sure to keep an eye out for any passing cars that are not aware of kids on the street.

*** Living Room Forte was always a fun adventure for when I was younger. I used to build a living room forte or in my bedroom and sometimes invite my best friend over to hang out with me. For me, it was like going camping, without the mosquitoes and canned food. Make it extra fun by packing your kids a brown bag of food so that they can stay inside their forte for as long as they want. Give them books, flashlights, and some pillows and their set to go for a day or so! Fortes are a great little “escape” for kids, and if you’re inclined to join in on the fun, all the better!

AROUND THE TOWN:

*** Cooking classes are great for kids who want to try something new and love to experiment with food. Typically the age to start cooking classes is around 5 or 6 years old as they might need to handle knives and utensils. You can find cooking classes offered at larger stores such as Williams Sonoma, Home Depot, Whole Foods Market, and Sur La Table.

***Art classes can be for a day or even a month long. There are art classes offered for children at your local community center, local colleges, or even art studios that give art lessons. Just do a search online for art classes for kids and you’ll find some great ones.

*** Beaches are a tried and true enjoyment for children. Depending on the age, build a small, enclosed sand pool for younger children to play in and keep them far from the shore. For older kids, bring along a couple of their friends so that they can explore the beach area as a group. Just be sure to bring plenty of sun block and water.

Whatever plans or non plans you have this summer, keep in mind that a bored child is also a child that can drive you nuts! 🙂 Give them plenty of activities to choose from or plan a trip with some suggestions from them. No matter what your plans are this summer, remember that traveling and spending quality time with your children builds great rapport while also giving them a sense of freedom and joy.

*Travel sites provided by redtri.com

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Posted by: suzan | June 6, 2019

Earth Friendly Father’s Day

With Father’s Day just around the corner, are you wondering how to dedicate the special day to your dad? Mother’s Day is super special, but what about those dads out there, or father figures? I have to admit that my husband not so blatantly wondered when was Father’s Day when we were celebrating Mother’s Day. Like he didn’t know. But, like many father’s out there, they don’t always get the accolade or appreciation that they so justly deserve.

Whether you’re celebrating with your dad, your husband, or any other father figures, let’s also make it an earth friendly kind of day. After all, children need to learn from both their parents on how to be stewards of our planet. Below I’ve highlighted some thoughtful and easy gift ideas as well as some unique anecdotes about fathers:

  • Kids cook for Father’s Day – Just like Mother’s Day, we all hoped our kids woke up at the crack of dawn to prepare a delicious and wholesome breakfast for us…right? Well, the same could be said for Father’s day. Get your kids ready for a home cooked meal for daddy and see the bright smile on his face when he’s treated like the King of the castle. It could be anything from a sweet treat like cookies and cake, or a delicious savory snack mix like the one here: https://www.marthastewart.com/1503375/best-snack-recipes?slide=3608548, or even a simple yet elegant dinner such as burger sliders and homemade biscuits and gravy. Whatever meal your child plans, just make sure it’s something that their dad enjoys.

  • Crafts – who doesn’t cherish a craft made by their child? This Father’s Day, have your kids make a special craft for their dad. Try making a paper crown that dad can wear throughout the day, or handmade cards made from scratch paper or construction paper, or a bookmark with your child’s photo. Put your creativity to use and you’ll find lots of cool and easy crafts to make for your dad.

  • Enjoy nature – take a long and leisure walk with dad. If you have a park nearby, take the morning or early evening to enjoy a walk around the park. You can also go on trails with your bicycles or feet and take a small snack so you can enjoy the day with your dad.

  • Chores around the house – dads can take a break on Father’s Day by relaxing and enjoying their day. Have your kids do some simple chores around the house that are usually assigned to dads. Depending on the age, your kids can wash the car, take out the garbage, clean the deck, or anything that you think your kids can do. Dad will appreciate the thought!

  • Artwork – take dad to a paint-your-own ceramics store or a one day art class. Art is quite relaxing and fun when you’re doing it with your loved ones. They can even take home their special cup or plate and artwork to remember the day forever.

  • Museums – museums can last all day or a couple of hours. There are many wonderful museums for all ages in practically every state you live in. Just search up “museums” in your website browser and turn on locations and some great ideas will pop up.

  • Flower bouquet – who says only women enjoy flowers?! My husband always loves it when I put fresh flowers from our garden around the house. Flowers are calming and inspiring and a wonderful gift for fathers! If you have a garden, pick some from your yard and put them in vases or homemade vase-jars.

And here are some inspirational notes for Father’s Day:

1. I’ll always be here for you, son.
Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad. Reminding your son that you always are available to him and mindful of his needs will go a long way in establishing and building trust over time. Mindful parentingmeans being present in the moment and aware of what’s happening. Modeling positive, supportive behavior while your son is young will show him that good men are reliable and responsible.

2. Treat others with compassion and empathy.
The Golden Rule may be a simple principle to follow, but teaching empathy can provide a deeper framework for how people should behave regardless of circumstance. Fostering empathy can help young boys to find commonalities between themselves and others who are seemingly different—and encourages them to positively and proactively think about and care for others.

3. Winning is great, but losing with grace and humility is just as important.
Good sportsmanship is a beneficial trait that goes well beyond what happens on the playing field. By teaching our sons how to win and lose with dignity, we’re giving them strong interpersonal relationship skills that will serve them well in many other aspects of their lives besides sports. Telling boys that the main point of competition is to have fun will alleviate the feeling of needing to win at any cost, allow them to enjoy themselves, and play for the sake of fun.

4. Surround yourself with people who you admire.
Dads can’t always pick our son’s friends, but we can definitely encourage them to choose their friendships wisely. Find out who your son admires and who his heroes are, and you’ll quickly discover the kinds of people he wants to emulate. Real friendships are fundamental in early childhood development, so teaching our sons how to find good friends and to be a good friend will help guide him in the right direction.

5. Never make an important decision on an empty stomach.
Over the course of a young boy’s life, he’ll have to make many important decisions. These decisions are just warm-ups to the various big decisions that he’ll have to make as a man, and every dad knows that important decisions should never be made on an empty stomach. There’s science to explain why people become grumpy or have poorer judgment when they are hungry. Teach your son to have a full belly before making any major life decisions.

6. It’s OK to play with dolls.
Or dress up as Beyoncé. Or sing like Beyoncé. Or dance like Beyoncé. By the time most boys are five years old, they’ve already learned lots of things that perpetuate toxic masculinity. Break the cycle by letting your son know that there are no such things as “girls-only toys” or “girls-only behaviors.” Instead, teach your son that there’s more than one way to be a man.

7. What was the best part of your day?
At the end of a long day of work and school, many dads will simply ask our sons, “How was your day?” And the typical response is a bluntly delivered, “Fine.” Rather than try to start a conversation with a generic question, be specific. Avoid questions that can be answered with a single word. As our sons get older—particularly as they enter their tween and teen years—they may be less inclined to volunteer information about what’s happening in their lives. Asking pointed questions will help tease out what’s really going on and what’s really on their minds.

8. I can teach you how to throw a punch, but never start a fight … and always know when to walk away.
It’s a dad’s duty to teach our sons when to stand their ground and when to walk away. Establishing a baseline that it’s never appropriate to hurt others for no reason is a critical, essential first step.

9. I’m so lucky that I get to be your dad.
And while you’re at it, tell your son that you love him every day, and give him lots of hugs and kisses, especially while he’s still young so that he gets used to receiving affection from (and giving it to) his old man.

So this Father’s Day, make it extra special for your dad or the father figures in your life!

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

Posted by: suzan | May 27, 2019

Realm – Book Tour and Giveaway

A sixteen-year-old girl of renowned beauty is brought before the greatest ruler the world has ever known. Her life is in his hands; her future his to decide.

Persian blood will keep her from claiming the grandest title of all—queen—but her reign will seal the fate of an empire.

In a war-torn era, a single misstep could tear a country apart and a single misspoken word could mean beheading. Thrown into a marriage she did not want or seek, Realm is the highly stylized story of Roxana, the brave and cunning wife of Alexander the Great. Based on the true life story of Alexander and Roxana, we are immediately taken to when the beautiful and defiant daughter of Baron Oxyartes meets Alexander for the very first time. Theirs was an instant attraction and a love that built over time. Was it a political agenda to combine both Persia and Greece? Or was there true love between Alexander and Roxana? In the story of Realm, author Alexandrea Weis tells the unknown tale between the great ruler and his beloved and beautiful wife, Roxana.

Life as ruler and royalty certainly wasn’t easy back then. With threats and lives in danger at every turn, only the most cunning and brave could survive. Realm is delightfully written from the point of view of Roxana, and interwoven between rich history and lore, is the tale of heartbreak, bravery, and an abiding love. If you’ve never heard of Roxana before, then you’ll get to know her quite well in Realm. After all, Roxana was the first wife of Alexander the Great, and perhaps his only true love.

Reading Realm made me want to learn more about Roxana and Alexander. Having studied in some capacity of the great ruler in ancient times, Realm made me fascinated about Roxana and all that she had to deal with while being the wife of Alexander. In the story, she is described as his first wife and his only true love. There were rumors of Alexander’s other love being his longtime and childhood friend, Hephaistion, but the author did not delve into that, rather, the deep friendship between Alexander and Hephaistion was just that – a deep and loyal friendship. While Alexander had several close confidantes, it was Roxana who held his heart and supported him on the side. Without Roxana, would Alexander have succeeded in taking over other countries and ruling over them? Certainly a mere wife of a great ruler, let alone a woman, couldn’t have influenced Alexander’s military plots?

Whether you know the history of Roxana or not, the author puts the young and beautiful woman in true light of a warrior princess. Bred to be strong and independent, Roxana did not suffer fools and her intelligence and kindness brought Alexander much peace, as well as his undying loyalty to her. I loved reading the dialogue between Roxana and Alexander and was pleased that he was written to be fair and just with people – both men and women. In a sense, Alexander was very respectful of women although history dictates that men – in particular the King – could do as he wished to any woman, at any time. Fortunately, Alexander did not believe in such barbaric thoughts and actions. And perhaps that was what had won Roxana over as well, the fact that Alexander treated her as an equal in some caliber.

Realm is very well written in a steady and stylized pace. There is not a dull moment in the story and you are led through a history lesson as well as the intricate details of warfare and love blossoming in dangerous times. You will admire Roxana for her bravery and wit and you will root for her to triumph in the end. I was happy to read that Alexander confided in Roxana and trusted her with his secrets, as well as guided her through the treacherous games played by enemies, rulers, and even close friends. The minor characters were also well written, with their personalities companionship to Roxana’s plights and victories. Overall, Realm is a story you must not miss and will definitely be a celebratory addition to my repertoire of historical realism. There is romance in the story of course, and some detailed descriptions of intimate moments so this book would be better for those over 18 years old, in my opinion. Nevertheless, if you want a tale rich with descriptive prose and insights into the lives of Alexander’s young wife and consort, then be sure to pick up Realm, by author Alexandrea Weis.

***Realm is published by Vesuvian Books and a contest is currently running with the book tour. Prizes include a $20 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Realm: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251233053/

 

 

Synopsis:

Based on a true story.

When her homeland is conquered by the mighty Alexander the Great, Roxana—the daughter of a mere chieftain—is torn from her simple life and thrown into a world of war and intrigue.

Terrified, the sixteen-year-old girl of renowned beauty is brought before the greatest ruler the world has ever known. Her life is in his hands; her future his to decide.

Without formal education or noble blood, Roxana is chosen by the Greek conqueror to be his bride. Soon she comes to know profound happiness and unyielding desire in her warrior’s arms.

However, being the king’s consort comes at a heavy price. To survive her husband’s treacherous kingdom, she must endure continuous warfare, deadly plots, jealous rivals, victory-hungry generals, and the stigma of being a barbarian. Persian blood will keep her from claiming the grandest title of all—queen—but her reign will seal the fate of an empire.

History tells his story. This is hers.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43185532-realm

Purchase:

Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/bOGkDK?store=amazon

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/realm-alexandrea-weis/1129903703

Apple Books: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/realm/id1442915317?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/realm-8

Author’s Bio:

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author of over twenty-seven novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers Association, Weis writes mystery, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.

Author links:

http://alexandreaweis.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authoralexandreaweis/

https://twitter.com/alexandreaweis

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1211671.Alexandrea_Weis

*** Thank you to Xpresso Booktours and Alexandrea Weis for this book tour opportunity.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | May 20, 2019

The Power of Indoor Plants

Spring time is truly the best time to get your outdoor garden going. At this time of year, the temperatures in the weather makes it suitable for plants to grow and thrive outside. But it’s also a great time for indoor planting. If you have a less than green thumb, try some of these easy to take care of plants that also include tons of health benefits. Indoor plants are also a great way for children to take on some extra (but small) responsibilities. Designate a plant for them to take care of and teach them about when to water, prune, and “talk” to their plants.

According to a study by NASA, certain indoor houseplants can improve air quality by removing the toxins in our homes. Our homes are filled with toxic chemicals that we are unaware of. Chemicals found in paint, furniture, and common pollutants like mold can all cause damage to our health. Children and elders need to be specifically careful about the air quality in their homes so having houseplants can do wonders at cleaning the air in your homes. The main rule of thumb when it comes to certain types of houseplants are to water them only when needed. Unlike outdoor plants which can dry out due to overexposure of sunlight, indoor plants require less sunlight and water. Just be sure the roots do not grow out of the planter or pot as that indicates the plants need to be transplanted to a bigger planter.

Here you’ll find a list of common indoor houseplants that are easy to take care of and can also help improve air quality:

1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
5. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
6. Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’, Janet Craig dracaena
7. Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’, Warneck dracaena
8. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
9. Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos
10. Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’, peace lily
11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena

Indoor houseplants that are used to improve air quality should be at least 6 inches or taller and must not be crowded inside the planter. I usually put the plant inside a decorative pot and remove the plant when watering. You can see if your plants need to be watered or needs sunlight by checking the soil and the health of the leaves. For more resources on houseplants and how to take care of them, check out these websites:

https://www.marthastewart.com/1504576/houseplants

https://www.healthyhouseplants.com/

https://www.armstronggarden.com/advice-home/diys-home/indoor-diys/diy-choosing-the-right-houseplants

 

*Photos courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

When we think of Mom, images of laughter in the sun, skipping hand in hand, and a kitchen filled with the most amazing aroma conjures in our heads. Nothing is as special as your mother or even being a mother. So this year for Mother’s Day, I’ve come up with some easy and earth-friendly ways of celebrating mom. Whether you’re celebrating your mother, grandmother, aunt, or a woman who raised you, there are some clever and innovative ways to honor her without breaking the bank or the planet. These are all simple to do with your kids and if you want to send these ideas to your spouse so they can craft these ideas to present to you, then go right along!

Aside from the common flowers and cards to give mom for Mother’s Day, let’s spice it up a bit by giving these gifts an extra sparkle while also helping out our other “mother” – Earth. Below are some fun and creative ideas to get the engine running, while also keeping it simple and classic.

MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS:

– Upcycle gifts. An easy, lovely, and eco-friendly way of giving back to your mom is by upcycling your everyday items. Your mom will appreciate your ingenuity and your talent for saving money! Find some gently-used craft paper, copy paper, or newspapers and turn them into handmade flowers. You can either make them into origami flowers or cut them into flower shapes. Some great ideas can be found here: https://www.origamiway.com/origami-flowers.shtmlhttps://www.marthastewart.com/274777/paper-flowers?slide=3427052, https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/paper-flower-craft/. Take old clothing and turn them into purses, book covers, or grocery bags. And upcycle bottles and cans into adorable and useful containers. You can find tons of ideas online, but here is one that has some super cute ideas for upcycling bottles: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/723038915155498106/.

– All-natural bath bombs. Bath bombs are one of those gifts that are easily enjoyed but people don’t tend to buy for themselves. I get them as gifts quite often but I also like to make them to give as gifts. Bath bombs don’t necessarily have to be used in the bath tub because you can toss them into the bottom of the shower floor and they will evaporate in the hot steam while you’re showering! Here’s a recipe for Lavender Bath Bomb but you can add any flowers/herbs or essential oils to your bath bomb. Find out what your mom likes and include them in the scents.

– Mini Herb Garden. Who doesn’t like fresh herbs, right? Especially when you have a tabletop version in the kitchen or on the windowsill outside. Start with some super easy and super useful herbs such as Sage, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, and Oregano. All of these herbs can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. You can either start with seeds and plant ahead of time (some grow into seedlings fairly quickly) or buy small plants and plant them into adorable planters (perhaps you can even use your upcycled planter!).

– Indoor plants. Studies have shown that certain indoor plants can improve air quality in your home. Certain plants such as Ferns, Bamboo, and Dracaena all have health benefits that can improve your mom’s mood and keep your home free of air pollutants and allergens. You can find these type of plants at your local nursery or online.

– Chore Wish. Ask your mom ahead of time or create your own chore list. Depending on the age of the child, pick chores that they can easily do, such as sweeping the yard, washing dishes, or folding clothes. Your mom will REALLY appreciate the effort you put in and be thankful for taking some extra chores off her hands. Create a wish list on a colorful chart and have your mom check it off as you go.

– Recycled materials. Give mom gifts made from recycled materials. You can find tons of useful and wonderful items such as pretty grocery bags (find sturdy and elegant ones from Whole Foods Market and online), journals made from recycled paper, and clothing made from recycled materials.

– Vegan and/or vegetarian brunch. Give mom the gift of good health and good taste. Vegan and vegetarian food are no longer just salads and crudites. Vegan options are food that are not made with animals or animal by products. Vegetarian food can include eggs and dairy, but just not animal meat or seafood. Check out some of these healthy and delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes: https://www.cookinglight.com/food/vegetarian/vegan-recipes

– Flowers from the garden. If your mom already has a beautiful and bountiful flower garden, then trim some of her favorite flowers to put into an elegant vase. If not, then buy organically grown flowers – organic flowers are not sprayed with toxic pesticides and are healthier for the earth. You can even put the flowers in one of your recycled containers to make it even more unique!

Whatever you decide to do this Mother’s Day, do it with all of your heart and kindness. Your mom after all, worked hard to raise you and teach you all the life lessons that you need to know.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

*photos courtesy of HGTV and CookingLight

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | April 15, 2019

Celebrate Earth Month – The Future is Now.

There’s a young student at my work that told me she was going to save the planet in the future. I replied back to her, “why not start saving it now? YOU are the future of the planet”. She thought about what I said for a few moments, nodded sagely, and said she would do “just that”. I can’t begin to tell you how happy and proud I felt at that child’s declaration. Though she is young, she has the right idea and a bright future of hope, love, and kindness ahead of her.

If all it took were courageous promises from young children to make our world a better place, then we might yet have hope for the future. Children have no preconceptions of how something should be. They either do it or they don’t. And while an adult can make just as magnanimous a promise, we often hesitate based on past experiences or preconceived judgment from others. But everyone can have hope for a brighter and better planet. Everyone can do their part – whether small or gigantic – to help heal our planet and hopefully give our children, our children’s children, and their future children a promise for a healthier world.

This year, as we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, let’s make a promise to do one small act. One act of kindness for our planet, our environment, our world. Whether it’s eliminating single use plastics in your lives or saving paper by using less, any small step can eventually lead to bigger steps. Our actions are like waves in the ocean: one ripple can carry through the entire planet.

Earth Month, or Earth Day can be celebrated in many ways. Below are some popular ideas and tried and true suggestions, but feel free to come up with some of your own. Get your family and friends to perform these acts of kindness for our planet and the impact will be even greater and worthwhile. Get your children involved. Get other children involved. For they ARE our future.

10 Acts of Kindness for our planet on Earth Day:

  • Reduce your intake of meat. In a 2018 report, a typical home in America can produce 8.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually through their food and energy consumption. 83 percent of that CO2 is related to food production. If you give up meat (such as beef, pork, and lamb) for just one week, you can reduce your carbon footprint by between 2,541 and 783 pounds a year!  WHAT YOU CAN DO: Bring a salad to work for lunch or have salad for dinner at home. If you’re not the salad type, you can reduce meat consumption other ways such as skipping meat in the household one week per month or every other month. Try meat alternatives such as soy, Tempeh, and legumes. While every food still produces energy and carbon footprint, plant based food produces much less and has long term health benefits. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Being a vegetarian is not for everyone. Heck, it took me a few years off from being a vegetarian to realize how great it felt to not eat meat again. But that’s me though and I made changes to fit my own lifestyle throughout the years. But you CAN do it! Just start small – one day a week of no meat can already make a great impact. Or even replace one meal each day for a week. You can choose either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Do you really need that slice of bacon in the morning? Or those sliced chicken in your salad at lunch? Or even a heavy piece of grilled steak for dinner? There are lots of innovative and DELICIOUS vegetarian style fare around you. Try it out!

  • Grow your own garden. Having your own garden – whether it’s a small patch in your backyard or acres worth – helps you control what you grow and what you eat. It also drastically reduces carbon footprint because you aren’t contributing to transportation of market produce and having to drive to the market for fresh vegetables. Imagine stepping outside your yard and picking out some freshly grown snap peas or plucking out a juicy carrot. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Decide where you want to grow your vegetable garden. Find a sunny spot but with access to shade during the day. Decide if you want a raised garden bed, in ground, or in planters. Many fruits and vegetables thrive exceedingly well in planters so don’t let small spaces deter you. Then decide what you want to grow. Check with your local nursery to see what’s in season. Decide how much you want to save and spend on your vegetable garden. Plan your growing season accordingly so that you can always have fresh vegetables. The easiest to grow and manage vegetables are: carrots, radish, tomatoes, snap peas, lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, squash, and corn. Be wary of certain types of bugs that like to enjoy your harvest and use only natural pesticides if necessary. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Gardening is truly the easiest and best way to stay healthy. It’s great exercise and you get to enjoy your bounty. Start off with a couple of large planters, good potting soil, and either seeds or seedlings. Pick easy to grow plants such as carrots and cucumbers or flowers such as sunflowers and lavender. Then, once you get the hang of it, continue with the growth of your garden and soon you will see blooms of delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers!

  • Reduce or eliminate single use plastic. Single use plastic means plastic that are used only once and then thrown away. These include plastic cups, straws, and plastic grocery bags. Remember that recycling is the LAST resort. As our planet starts to deteriorate faster than it can heal itself, we must all do our part in preserving our precious environment. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Stock up on reusable shopping bags made from recycled materials. Keep a few in the trunk of your car so you don’t forget when you’re out shopping. Eliminate the use of unnecessary straws. While you may think that one or two straws while you’re out drinking a beverage is no big deal, imagine you doing that ten times over in a week, a month, or even a year! And imagine 10 other people doing the same thing! You can fill up an entire swimming pool of plastic straws in a very short amount of time. Now imagine that in the ocean you swim in and admire. And imagine those plastic straws inside the fish you eat or around the necks of precious turtles and birds. Not really a pretty sight after all. You can also bring your own lunch in reusable containers. Try not to wrap your sandwiches in aluminum foil or plastic. And try using cloth napkins instead of paper. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Actually, you CAN! It can be as simple as putting even 1 reusable bag in your purse or front seat of your car. We all forget to bring reusable bags from time to time, but if you keep it in sight then you’re likely to remember to use them. And when you’re out getting a beverage, skip the straw. Simply drink straight from your cup. Unless there are difficulties preventing you from sipping directly from the cup, then you don’t really need a straw. And when you’re out eating, try not to leave any leftovers where you feel forced to take them home. Yes, food waste is a major problem in the US, but if you can just order the proper amount you want to eat then you won’t have any leftovers. If you do want to take food home, you can always bring your own containers or ask the restaurant to pack as much food in one container as possible.

  • Plant a tree. Trees are nature’s most powerful resources. Without trees, we would not have cleaner air and the necessary eco system for animals and insects. Trees breathe in CO2 and exhale oxygen, thus helping to clean the air around it. Human bodies produce CO2 which is toxic to our environment due to the food we consume, sickness, and bad hygiene. Planting trees or having trees in your home can have many benefits beside providing clean air. Trees can reduce ozone levels and erosion. And trees can reduce heating and air conditioner costs. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make an initiative to plant more trees. Start a tree club or group and plant more trees where fires ruined the land or in areas where trees are desperately needed. It doesn’t have to cost much to plant trees. Pick trees such as Pine, Oak, and Cypress as they have less maintenance and can live for many, many years. Just be sure to plant ones that are suitable to the region. You can also grow trees in your own yard. Find a nice shady area and water accordingly. Once established, most trees do not require a lot of water so it also helps reduce water waste. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Planting trees might not be for everyone for whatever reasons, so start off small. Support a charity that plants trees in your honor. The Arbor Day Foundation is a great non-profit organization that plants trees for you (https://www.arborday.org/). Or if planting trees isn’t the thing for you, then you can always make monetary donations or volunteer at a tree planting organization or event.

  • Use separate bins to sort your Recycling. Most people in the US or even the world have a hard time figuring out how to recycle properly. You may think that all plastics can go in the plastic recycling bin or that not rinsing out food in containers actually hinders your recyclable containers from being recycled. All it takes are a few trash bins to sort out your waste properly. They don’t even have to be big bins or expensive ones. If you have room for them in the house, then a great visible place would be in the kitchen. Otherwise, the garage is a great place to keep them as well. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Typically, you’ll need at least 3 bins if you’re starting out: one for recyclable goods such as paper, certain plastics such as PETE #1 and #2, and glass food containers. One for beverage containers. Make sure the containers are made from recyclable materials such as aluminum, glass, and plastics made from PETE materials #1 and #2. Be sure to check with your local recycling facility to make sure they accept these materials. You can even earn money by properly recycling them. And the third bin would be for food waste. Food waste includes items that you can’t compost (a separate compost bin is another bin to add but only if you compost for your garden). Be sure to rinse out and dump out all the food scraps from your recyclable containers before putting them in the bin. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: As I mentioned above, you can start off with just 3 separate bins. Once you get into the cycle of recycling, you can add more bins such as a compost bin to be used in your yard, an electronics bin such as batteries and any broken and old cords and cables (just be sure to properly recycle these instead of throwing them away in the trash), and an “unrecyclable” bin. What goes inside an unrecyclable bin? Things that are hazardous waste materials such as paint and aerosol cans, motor oil, and anything that contains toxic chemicals. Check your local recycling centers to find out how to properly dispose them.

  • Reduce paper waste. You can reduce paper waste by printing on both sides of the paper. This should be a fairly easy thing to do. We all print out documents at one time or another. But we don’t always keep those documents either. Thus, tons of paper gets wasted if we don’t practice printing on both sides. Better yet, try not to print at all. If you can send something electronically, do so. It’s unnecessary to print something unless you need a physical copy. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are some suggestions for reducing paper waste – If you’re in school, ask your teacher if you can send homework electronically; proofread carefully before you print to avoid mistakes and needlessly reprinting; and Upycle paper by creating crafts, using them as scratch paper, putting them in pet pens, and using them as wrapping paper for small gifts. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Everyone is guilty of wasting paper now and then. I work at a school and I see tons of paper being wasted. So the best advice is to remind yourself whenever you feel inclined to print something. Do you really need to print it? Or can you save the document on your computer or email the document to someone instead of mailing it?

  • Grow plants for pollinators. Natural pollinators such as bees and butterflies are so important for our eco system and our food source. Bees help pollinate food such as fruits and vegetables, wheat, and certain nuts and seeds, and of course an abundance of flowers. Pollinators also help other plants grow in rural areas or areas that desperately need plant and food crops. WHAT YOU CAN DO: The best plants for pollinators are native plants. Native plants are plants that grow in your region or area. You can search this up easily online by typing in: native plant zones. Native plants help pollinators remain in their area to support local agriculture. It also ensures that these pollinators remain healthy. Just be sure to plant as much organic as possible. Avoid using toxic pesticides for they can greatly damage the health of pollinators. Next, find plants that are specific to bees and butterflies. Best plants for pollinators are: lavender, milkweed, sunflowers, coneflower, oregano, salvia, yarrow, and many others. The best types of flowers are ones that are open with flat petals so they make easy landing places for pollinators. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: It’s fairly easy to grow plants in your garden. If you live in an apartment or somewhere that prevents you from having a garden, then try container gardening. Even if it’s a few planters outside your front door or windowsill will help these important pollinators. Many plants thrive well in planters so don’t let space hinder you! And if you have a well, black thumb, then consider growing minimalist plants such as herbs and succulents. As long as these types of plants flower, then you’ll likely find bees and butterflies roaming around them.

  • Walk, ride bicycles, or carpool. We have become so dependent on our motor vehicles that we tend to forget they cause a majority of pollution on our planet. Reducing our carbon footprint is essential in helping our planet heal and replenish. Whenever we can walk or use non-engine types of vehicles such as bicycles and skateboards to get around, we are helping to reduce pollution and carbon dioxide as well as living a healthier lifestyle. WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you live close enough to your work, then consider riding your bicycle, walk, or even taking local transit. If you live too far, then try carpooling with a nearby co-worker and take turns driving. Try walking or bicycling to your nearest grocery store instead of driving. And try to buy all your groceries and personal necessities in one trip to avoid the unnecessary multiple trips to the store. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: It really does take determination to reduce your carbon footprint. Not everyone is able to walk, ride, or carpool around town but if you can eliminate even one day of not using your motor vehicle, you are lessening the impact of your carbon footprint.

  • Use non-toxic cleaners. Toxic cleaners are the ones that have ingredients you can barely pronounce and a list that goes a mile long. These man-made cleaning agents do more harm than good to the environment, your health, and your property. Harsh cleansing agents actually break down compounds making them weak and fragile. Whenever possible, use natural cleaners or make some of your own. Great cleaning agents that are non-toxic and have proven results are vinegar, lemon, and salt. Essential oils from plants are also great for cleaning and detoxifying germy areas. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Invest in some really good and high quality natural cleaners. My favorites (that are also cruelty-free) are: Earth Friendly Products or ECOS, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Ecover, to name a few. If you want to make your own, try using baking soda, vinegar, and add in essential oils of lavender, mint, or thyme. Many essential oils have wondrous healing and antibacterial properties plus they add a nice, natural scent to your homemade cleaners. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Non-toxic cleaners ARE a thing! Some people may be skeptic to the efficacy of all natural cleaners but lab and home testing results have proven how effective they are. In fact, due to their natural ingredients that work with nature, they can prevent breaking down of certain materials that can otherwise get damaged by harsher cleaning agents. Non-toxic cleaners are also important if you have allergies and are sensitive to certain ingredients and scents. If you’re stuck on using the typical conventional cleaners, try using just one natural cleaner to start with and see how they work out for you.

  • Use natural beauty products. This one should be fairly easy to take on. I’ve been using natural beauty products for over 20 years and I noticed a huge difference in how my skin and body feels and looks. It might take a few times of using the product to see a noticeable difference and that’s because natural products use ingredients that work with your body and build up a natural balance rather than just temporarily hiding it or masking the problems. In time, your body will be in tune with the natural ingredients and the products you use so that your skin and your body will actually reject the harsher, non-natural products. Sounds crazy right? Natural beauty products are also gentler on the planet because they do not leave toxic residue in landfills and oceans. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) (https://www.ewg.org/) database on natural beauty products. They help range over 70,000 beauty products on the level of toxicity. After you’ve had a chance to check out the database, head on over to your local beauty supply store or search online. Typically, the natural beauty product brands do not cause any adverse reactions but always check the ingredients list and try a sample if possible. My current favorite beauty brands are SIBU, Pangea Organics, Andalou Naturals, and Aveda (certain ingredients in their products might cause allergic reactions to some users). BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: There’s no such thing as using something that’s not natural. Even washing your hands in just water is natural. We all want to live a healthier lifestyle right? Then using non-toxic ingredients on our face, our body, and in our hair should be simple enough. Natural beauty products aren’t necessarily expensive and you can even make your own products. Start off on something small as switching to a more natural shampoo or using an essential oil blend as a moisturizer. Since I’ve been using natural beauty products for so many years, I get an immediate adverse reaction if I happen to use something that isn’t natural. It’s due to my skin going back to it’s original state when we were younger and didn’t need or want beauty products on our skin. You can be as scientific as you want, but it all comes down to letting your skin and your body readjust to a gentler and safer beauty routine.

This year, as we celebrate Earth Day, consider making a positive change for the environment. We all want to live with cleaner air and healthier food and we want to ensure that our children’s children and their future generations will have a better future. For some great resources on helping the environment, check out the following websites:

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables

https://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides

https://earth911.com

https://kidsgardening.org

https://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/plants-pollination#plants-pollination_15

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

Posted by: suzan | April 4, 2019

2019 Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen Report

If you’re still on the edge wondering if you should choose organic, now is the time to do it! As farming industries get more polluted and compromised it’s crucial that as a consumer, you take necessary steps to ensure our food stays clean and free of toxic pesticides. Before I became a parent, I didn’t work as hard in making sure that I buy as much organic food as possible. Organic products were quite expensive years ago, but as people start to realize the health and environmental benefits of organic products, prices have become more competitive and organic food is easier to find. Now, I read every label, every ingredients list, and buy as much organic and locally produced products as possible. That old saying of you are what you eat? Well, that pretty much holds true when it comes to our bodies and our health.

Each year, The Environmental Working Group (https://www.ewg.org/) analyzes and collects scientific data on the dirtiest produce in the US. Some of the produce listed are things that I buy regularly for my family. If you compare last year’s with this year’s, you’ll notice that not much has changed, and that’s a sad fact considering we are supposed to make our food industry better and healthier. But if we all do our part – whether big or small – we can help change the farming industry and how food is grown and treated. See below for the Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen list by EWG (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/full-list.php)

EWG 2019 Dirty Dozen list (in order of most pesticide residue found):

1 – STRAWBERRIES

2- SPINACH

3- KALE

4- NECTARINE

5- APPLES

6- GRAPES

7- PEACHES

8- CHERRIES

9- PEARS

10- TOMATOES

11- CELERY

12- POTATOES

EWG 2019 Clean Fifteen (in order of least pesticide residue found):

1- AVOCADO

2- SWEET CORN

3- PINEAPPLE

4- SWEET PEAS FROZEN

5- ONION

6- PAPAYA

7- EGGPLANT

8- ASPARAGUS

9- KIWI

10- CABBAGE

11- CAULIFLOWER

12- CANTALOUPE

13- BROCCOLI

14- MUSHROOMS

15- HONEYDEW MELON

* For a printable guide, click on this PDF format:

EWG_FNGuide-2019_Print_C01

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

Posted by: suzan | March 26, 2019

The Goodbye Cafe Blog Tour with Mariah Stewart

Strong women. Supportive men. And a bevy of mysteries and intrigue along the way. This is the story of love, redemption, and self worth, all wrapped up nicely in the third installment of Mariah Stewart’s, The Hudson Sisters trilogy.

The Goodbye Cafe is the third installment in The Hudson Sisters. The Hudson Sisters – Allie, Des, and Cara are three estranged sisters, thrown together by a strange will left by their endearing but elusive father. Each of the three books in the series are told by the various sisters, with The Goodbye Cafe written from the POV of Allie, the eldest sibling. Allie is perhaps my most favorite sister out of the three because she is so relatable and heartbreaking and so very interesting. Her character is one of strength and innocence but she doesn’t realize her self worth until the ending of the story. Allie’s story is one of struggle and redemption and finding out that a family’s love is the one true love she never thought she had.

In the Goodbye Cafe, the old town’s theater, The Sugarhouse Theater is finally fully renovated and ready to be opened. The sisters all agreed at the start of the project that they would do their parts, take the inheritance, and then go back to their old lives. As with each book in the series, each sister starts to realize that their stay in the Pocono Mountains and working on The Sugarhouse Theater brought them more joy and meaning than their previous lives ever did. And as with each sister’s POV in the different titles, Allie starts to realize that she too, can have a choice. A choice that makes her happy for once, and to not live through her daughter or her personal transgressions.

I really enjoyed reading The Goodbye Cafe because it wraps everything up nicely. I’m also bittersweet because I don’t want this wonderful series to end! I adored the characters, the setting, the supporting characters, and the little nuances that speaks to the readers along the way. As I noted before, Allie was my favorite character because she resonated so much to my heart.

If you’re ever stuck wondering what new book series to pick up, then don’t hesitate for one second in getting The Hudson Sisters Series. The entire series is filled with laughter, intrigue, mystery, and love that you never quite thought you needed or wanted.

I was honored to have been able to interview Ms. Mariah Stewart for The Goodbye Cafe. Please read on for her interview:

The Goodbye Cafe (A Hudson Sisters Series)

Q- The Hudson Sisters series is a wonderful installment of finding love and self-worth. What inspired you to write about these three lovely ladies?

A- The inspiration for the story came from my mother’s discovering she had half-siblings when she was in her forties or fifties. My grandfather had a family in MA when he changed his name and moved to PA where he met and married my grandmother. The idea was too good not to use! Once it wormed its way into that portion of my brain where stories grow, I had to write it. The sisters just sort of presented themselves the way you read them.

Q- Do you incorporate real life experiences into your novels?

A- Other than thinking about my grandfather’s checkered life and his numerous offspring, not so much! Though the setting was personal, since my mother’s brother (the legitimate one!) lived in Clarks Summit, and I lived visiting my cousins. They lived half-way up the West Mountain, and there was always something fun to do there. I guess those memories were really stuck in my brain, waiting for the right time to show themselves!

Q- When did you find out you had a passion for writing?

A- I was very ill when I was seven and had to spend the entire summer in my room, most of the time in my bed. My brother brought me library books several times every week, but after awhile, I’d read all the books our small-town library had. So I started writing my own. It was just something I always wanted to do.

Q- How long do you envision writing novels?

A- Until I keel over and pass on into the next dimension – and I’ll probably be at my computer!

Q- Any plans on making your novels into movies or TV series?

A- That’s not something I have control over. I wish! But that’s something someone else would decide. Though I could totally see any of my series as a TV series – especially Mercy Street, the Chesapeake Diaries, and the Hudson Sisters.

Q- I have to ask: Who is your favorite character in The Hudson Sisters stories?

A- Barney, for sure, and Nikki, definitely! I love all three sisters, but if I had to choose, I’d say Allie, because she was the most complex and the most sharp edges.

Q- The ending of The Goodbye Cafe seems to elude to a possible sequel? Or perhaps a spin-off series?

A- I haven’t planned on doing that. I thought the ending worked either way, whether I did or didn’t write another book. But I admit it’s tough not to think about!

Q- How did you determine the various characteristics of the three sisters?

A- Because they are all quite different from each other, personality wise. Characters more or less announce themselves. They are who they are. My job is just to translate them into the story I’m telling. When I started thinking about writing this story, Cara, Des, and Allie were just there and I knew who they were and how they were going to interact with each other.

Q- Do you have any sisters of your own?

A- No, but I have two daughters, so I’m quite familiar with the interactions and the occasional drama, especially when they are younger.

Q- What are you working on right now?

A- Right now, I’m working on a book that’s very different from the ones I’ve done before, so I don’t want to say much about it! It’s a standalone – probably – so it’s not a new series. We’ll see how and where it goes!

THE GOODBYE CAFÉ
The Hudson Sisters series, Book 3
On sale March 26, 2019
Trade Paperback • Price: $16.00 • ISBN: 9781501145124
eBook • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501145162

California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania.
After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.
But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.
She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.
With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?

You can purchase The Goodbye Cafe and all of Mariah’s Stewart’s titles on Amazon: The Goodbye Cafe

***Thank you to Mariah and Simon & Schuster Gallery Books for the paperback preview and the book tour!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmomm

Posted by: suzan | March 5, 2019

2019 New Goals, New You

As we enter the month of March (can you believe it, we’re already a quarter into the new year!), do you still have new years resolutions that you’re hedging on? Or do you make resolutions throughout the entire year? I fall in the latter category since I tried the other approach and all of my resolutions that I determinedly made in January, drifted away just as decisively. Whether you take the passive approach or you steamroll through your ambitions, starting off fresh in the new year is a great way to begin the year.

A new year brings new changes. Changes can bring fear for some but if you look at it in a positive way, then changes bring a chance to do better in any aspect of your life. Whether you are a child or a grownup, make this new year a chance to make positive changes.

As I look around me discovering new concepts and ideas, I found some very interesting tips along the way. I wanted to share with you the latest trends that can help make your life simpler and better. This year’s theme centers around minimalism. By now you’ve probably heard or read somewhere about the new book by Marie Kondo, and the simple act of tidying up. Simplicity and minimalism benefit various aspects of our lives, from our homes to our fashion to our work. And in the end, the accumulation of minimalism helps simplify our life by looking at what we truly need rather than what we want.

2019 Goals:

Mindfulness an ancient approach that originated in Buddhism. The act of mindfulness is to be wholly aware of the present moment. This approach applies to everything around you, such as the food you eat, your school work, and even your workload at your job. The idea is to be in the moment and to focus solely on what you are doing. Monks practice this approach when meditating so that their mind and body are as one. Mindfulness is a great practice for children as young as 5 years old. This helps train them to be more focused and to later transcend what they see and know into a higher learning.

Minimalism the act of minimalism is the necessity to reduce things and to live with less. If someone asks you, “what can you live with if you only had 10 things in your life?” would you be able to answer that honestly? Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. When we have less materialism then life tends to bend towards more freedom. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have materialistic things. But just ask yourself the sage old question, “if I leave this in the closet for 3 months, will I miss it? Will I even think about it?” If not, then chances are you don’t really need it to begin with. Children are seemingly the opposite of minimalism. What they see and hear are typically what they want in their lives. But if we as their parents, and adults, practice minimalism, then we can show our children the pitfalls of having too many things.

Self Care – when it comes to caring for ourselves, we often end up getting the shorter end of the stick. Especially if you’re a parent, your life gravitates around your children as they can be the center of everything in your life. But at a certain point in time, your own self can wither and wilt, leaving you tired and drained and not too happy. Take care of yourself on a daily basis. It might be effortless for some while others struggle to even get 10 minutes of peace and tranquility. Self care includes reading a really good and engaging book; taking a long, warm, and soothing bath; or taking a walk through nature and enjoying the silence and sights around you. Self care will invigorate you and bring you back to a better place.

Journaling- when you think of journaling, does it take you back to your middle school days when you write about all the things that happened in the week or day? Journaling is a therapeutic approach to release stress and worries because of the psychological effect of hand to paperIt’s a way of releasing all the feelings and thoughts in our heads and leaving them onto paper where no one else can see it if we choose for them not to. Writing down our thoughts is a secret way of saying something without hurting others or ourselves. The steps to journaling are: Find a routine. Focus on feelings. Take 15-20 minutes each day to write something  down. Try a prompt if stuck on what to write. Use a journal or computer. Keep your writings safe. Children can benefit from journaling when they are stuck with something they don’t know how to do and writing things down can help them process the steps to accomplishing their goals.

Sustainable – the act of sustainability stems from using what we have and not needing more until we’ve used it up. But to truly be sustainable is to find out what we really need, and not want we only want. Sustainable can be anything from using cotton napkins instead of paper ones, or using glass containers instead of plastic ones that can eventually warp and get thrown away, to growing our own vegetables and fruits for a fresher and safer consumption. Try simple practices of sustainability by removing the overuse of plastic in your life one step at a time. Or buying products that are self-renewable such as bamboo and using more solar powered products.

Reducing – Ah, reducing. That word seems to be on trend everywhere you go, every page you read, and from headlines splashed throughout the internet. When I teach my students about environmental issues, I try to challenge them to go beyond the basic act of recycling and actually try reducing. Reducing really could be a simple act to do as long as you evaluate what you truly need in life. Reducing certain areas in your life can help reduce stress and save you money. Simple acts of reducing ideas:

*Unsubscribing from email newsletters or not subscribing at all unless it’s a person or brand you really like.

*Opt-out from national mailing lists (https://dmachoice.thedma.org/register.php) so your mailbox and home aren’t cluttered with junk mail that wastes ink, paper, and space.

*Keep a few reusable shopping bags in the trunk of your car so that you remember to take them while shopping. This helps eliminate the unnecessary need for extra store bags.

*Plan out your weekly meals to help you save money and time. If you have children, try to teach them to eat the same food as the adults so you’re not spending more buying food that only they want. A few good resources for meal planning here: http://www.eatingwell.com/category/4286/meal-plans/; https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Meal-Plannerhttps://www.marthastewart.com/1127131/10-golden-rules-family-meal-planning

*Donate gently used clothing that you no longer wear or throw them out if damaged. Keep only a few circulating items in your closet that you can put together in ensembles. Keep classic staples such as high quality jeans, a couple pairs of good sneakers, good quality sweaters and rotate them throughout the year according to your personal style.

*If you read magazines and books, try buying them to read on a digital device. Granted, you might want to keep some hard copies for special momentos, but authors still get paid whether you buy their products digitally or on paper.

Make 2019 your year to live better, think healthier, and accomplish life changing goals. These simple acts of lifestyle changes will do you wonders for now and the future.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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SongOfSacrificeTourBanner (1)

Love, Heartbreak, Redemption. These are all the facets possible in a human soul whether they are centuries old or a few years born. In Janell Rhiannon’s new novel, Song of Sacrifice, it is the sacrifices of women that tell tales of the ancient Gods and Goddesses of myth.

Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Paris, Achilles. Olympia Gods and Goddesses. Heroes and Villains. All the beauty, glory, and tragedy ever to be found in the myths of ancient Greek mythology. Every deity played a role and every mortal suffered from the whims of the Gods and Goddesses. And it is in author Janell Rhiannon’s book that we learn a deeper tale, and a much heartbreaking story of triumph and redemption. The stories you have read were mainly based on the Greek Gods, but what of the women who gave birth to the mortal heroes and heroines? What of the mothers, sisters, aunts, and lovers?

I’ve been a fan of Greek mythology ever since I first picked up a history book detailing the melodramatic lives of the ancient Greek Gods and how they ruled Olympia. From childhood to now, I absorbed as many books as I could on the history of Greek mythology and how their roles play heavily on modern day beliefs. Many things in our lives originated from the ancient Olympians. Titles such as Titans and Muses can be found in sports teams and contemporary language. Almost everything around us derives from some sort of legend or myth. And ancient Greek myth is as old as time and as grandiose as the finicky deities. So when I was offered to read and review Song of Sacrifice from Janell Rhiannon, how could I say no?

Paying homage to Greek author, Homer, the tale of Song of Sacrifice distinctly tells the stories of the women who loved enough to give birth to heroes and broken apart by deception and conceit. As glorious as the Greek Gods were, they were also petty and foolish, often playing on the whims of mere mortals. Through these whims and triumphs however, stories of great tragedy and profound love were born, thus this fabulously detailed story written by Janelle is a must-read for fans of Greek mythology and historical remakes.

In Song of Sacrifice, you’ll learn how Achilles was born and became a hero; how Agememnon foolishly led the war to what we know as the “Trojan War”; and how Paris was raised by a sheepherder and later became the kidnapper of the beautiful Helen of Troy. Interwoven in between these well-known heroes are the mothers and wives who suffered greatly at the hands of arranged marriages and sacrificed hearts. These women, who gave birth to the heroes and heroines are revered in Song of Sacrifice as they should be, for who but mothers of these heroes would sacrifice their lives to save their children? If I learned anything else in this story, it is that no matter the age and era, women will greatly suffer all for the name of love. It not mattered if the women were royalty or peasants – they bore the grief of their fallen children and rose only through tales of authors and poets – never in the forefront of stories like their male counterparts. I applaud Janell in bringing these women to light.

Song of Sacrifice is beautifully written, well researched, and detailed. I felt as if I was right there along with the characters; crying over lost dreams and hopes, and smiling through the small triumphs and glories. Even if you are not a fan of Greek mythology, you’ll be drawn into the details of the hearts of the women and the things they had to endure through their lives. Some women are well known, some are not. But all of these women were equally if not more important than the men they married and the children they raised.

Synopsis:

The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.
Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes, whisper to us across time…
…remember our songs alongside the mighty men of myth.

As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than they ever have before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory.

Clytemnestra of Mycenae struggles for control of her life after Agamemnon ruthlessly rips it apart. Leda of Sparta survives a brutal assault by Zeus, shouldering a terrible secret in silence. Penelope raises Ithaka’s sole heir alone, praying for Odysseus’ swift return. Thetis, the sea nymph, despairs of her son’s destiny and resorts to forbidden magic to save him. Hecuba of Troy mourns the loss of her second son to a dark prophesy. And Shavash of Pedasus prepares her daughter to marry the greatest warrior who ever lived.

In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, the iron hearts of heroines will conquer all.

Sing, Muse, sing their song of sacrifice…

Replaces Song of Princes as the first book in the Homeric Chronicles.

 

*** Xpresso Book Tours is also offering a tour-wide giveaway of a $25 Amazon Gift Card here:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251232880/

You can also purchase Song of Sacrifice at the following retailers:

And follow the Song of Sacrifice tour here with other bloggers and readers:
AUTHOR BIO:

In graduate school, Janell focused on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Hooked by the “sword and sandal” world, she studied everything she could about mythology and Alexander the Great.

The Homeric Chronicles series is dedicated to merging dozens of Greek myths, including Homer’s epics, with plays, history, and archaeology. Her intent is to raise the heroines’ voices equally alongside the heroes, opening up a traditionally male focused genre to a female audience.

She lives in CA and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has a pack of two big dogs and two cats.

Author links:

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours and Janell Rhiannon for the opportunity to be on this book tour!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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