Friday, September 19, 2014

Cat Haiku by Deborah Smith


As any of my regular blog readers already know, I LOVE cats. I have long "been owned" by many felines over the years; currently by the fab Mr. Cheddar (who btw is co-blogger here at My Real Life Reviews). And as the author of two haiku poetry collections, I also LOVE haiku poetry. 

When I saw: Cat Haiku by Deborah Smith over at Amazon recently, I was eager to give it a read. This eBook did not disappoint, it's just wonderful! :-)

Deborah Smith is the author of several books/eBooks and also by her own admission a "crazy cat lady" who knows first-hand the joys, thrills and spills (pun intended) of being owned by several cats (she currently lives with 8 felines!), yes EIGHT!!!

She is not only a talented writer; her artwork featured in this book is both original and captivating. 

Here are a couple of poems from the book that I particularly liked:

Cats make bad soldiers:
No discipline, no order
And they won't salute.

***

I see beyond worlds
Deep hearts,
waking fantasies
in my eyes
are dreams


I can SO relate to these lines. 
And again, the artwork that accompanies each poem adds so much to this collection.

 I only keep my absolutely fav books on my Kindle carousel (home page) but this eBook will definitely be staying there for the foreseeable future. I love to re-read a poem or two, when I'm reading on my Kindle. These poems always bring a smile to my day.

If you love all things feline (like I do) and perhaps haiku poetry too (even better): Cat Haiku by Deborah Smith is an eBook you will not want to miss. Highly recommended.

Overall rating for this eBook: Excellent. 5 out of 5. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil







I started using this oil as part of the Shangri-La diet, taking 1 or 2 Tablespoons each day to curb my appetite. It works like a charm.

Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil has a very mild flavor, unlike Extra Virgin Olive Oil, so it is easy to take a spoonful, straight. It might sound strange but this really is an easy way to cut down on other calories. 

You can read more about my experiences of following the Shangri-La diet here.  

Although I used the sugar-water option previously instead of the ELOO, I am happier with the oil this time as I think it's healthier and is still just as effective as I found taking the sugar water was. Again, to really understand how this diet works, read the book. 

I easily lost almost 20 lbs. following this diet a few years ago. This time, I've been following it for about 2 weeks and have already dropped over 5 pounds, again almost effortlessly.

 I no longer snack at night but otherwise I'm eating sensibly but whatever I want throughout the day. Snacking at night can really "pile on the pounds" and with this diet, I no longer feel the need to eat anything after supper. That is a BIG change for me and a definitely a very easy way to lose weight. 

Back to the oil. Although I prefer EVOO overall, for using with this diet and for baking and frying at higher temps. (the ELOO has a higher smoke point) I would definitely recommend  Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil.

A couple more good points, it's reasonably priced and is still being bottled in glass at this point. I hope they continue to use this packaging and not plastic.

Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life On Foot: A Walk Across America by Nate Damm







I thoroughly enjoyed: Life On Foot: A Walk Across America by Nate Damm.

I read this book in a couple of days, wanting to see what would happen next in Nate's walking journey across the US.

Nate Damm's determination to walk from Maine to San Francisco made for an inspiring read and in so many ways. 

But what I liked most about this story overall were the stories of the many good people (including some very original and at time quirky characters) he met along the way, who helped him in various ways: lodging, food, money...That was an inspiration too and confirmation of just how many kind and generous people there really are out there, willing to help a stranger passing through and in need. Loved that.

There were a couple of things that I didn't like about this book but they were minor.

 First of all,  I was upset by one incident in the book that made Nate "giggle". This was regarding a man (who Nate didn't know) at one of the campgrounds towards the end of the journey. This man was having an altercation with police and they were threatening to taser him. That I did not find funny at all and it seemed out of character to the rest of Nate's story and how I was feeling about the type of person that I thought he was up to that point. Definitely showed a lack of sensitivity on Nate's part, how he reacted to seeing this incident with the police.

I also thought that Nate's diet along the trail was for the most part, really BAD. Lots and lots of junk food: hot dogs, sodas, etc...and a lot of booze too. That didn't take away from the actual story, but it also didn't seem consistent with someone who would need lots of stamina and to be in the good health each day, to continue to walk mile after mile.

One other thing that seemed a little "strange" was that at the end of the journey, only a few friends and his mom were there to greet him. Would there have been no media to record the finish to this amazing walk? I know other people have walked this trail but I would have thought at least a couple of reporters would have been on hand to write up Nate's story that day.

Overall though, a very entertaining read and a journey I'm glad to have shared, via my Kindle Fire! ;-)

"Best wishes and good luck to you Nate, on all your upcoming adventures." 

Yours is a story I will never forget. 

Overall rating for this eBook: Very Good. 4 out of 5. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Taking a Blog Break and....





You can read more here, re: my summer break.

In the meantime, I'm still reading, testing products and planning reviews.  

But right now, it seems like the right time to take a break from all my blogs.

Happy Trails and Fare-thee-well!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Missi's Dating Adventures by Carol Balawyder






I started Missi's Dating Adventures with the intention to read a few pages and then shut down my Kindle for another day. That didn't happen. 

Author, Carol Balawyder had me hooked from the first few pages and I read the whole book in one session! 

This is an original story filled not just with wit, but also with wisdom and lessons to be learned too.

First, the wit:

The main character in this book is Missi Morgan, a 45 year old divorced woman who writes romance novels and is an online dating columnist. From her own life experiences, Missi shares what she has learned of the perils of dating in the 21st century for women 40 +

And wow, the stories she shares!

I couldn't believe some of the losers that she wrote about in this book.
I shook my head, smiled, teared up a couple of times too. 

But most of all,  I laughed and laughed. ;-) 

For example:

* Mead, a heart surgeon who never shuts up. Trying to capture Missi's attention from the beginning with comparisons of the valves of the heart to the underground pipes of the city of Boston.

In spite of being a doctor, he's also a big time cheap-o who loves to talk about the bargains he's recently found for himself such as: his new Ralph Lauren PJs, $38. no tax!

* Bruce, who lasted 2 months with Missi. When it came time to break up, Missi hands him a list of "whys" that includes: you scratch yourself in front of me, you pile blankets on the bed when I'm having a hot flash, you take my photo when I have my mouth full...

*Hugh (now this one was a REAL loser) who goes everywhere with two cameras slung around his neck. One for portraits, one for scenery. (you had to ask why????).

Hugh also likes to wear his old "fat clothes" even though he is no longer fat, simply to wear them out.

And CHEAP, beyond belief. Expecting Missi to bring her own food or to pay for it at restaurants. When he's really feeling generous, he even offers Missi a BITE of his chicken sandwich.

And about those cameras, he loves to snap all kinds of photos but never one of Missi.

*Stuart, who is partial to wearing an ascot around his neck but that is where any kind of "class" ends.

Again, this is another guy who gives a whole new meaning to the word CHEAP. Expecting Missi to bring wine with her to restaurants and asking waiters for discounts and early bird specials.

the list goes on and on.

Along with the laughter (my husband, Joe was trying to read over my shoulder btw, while I was reading because of how often I was laughing) I found myself wondering as I read these stories:

Do guys with this little going for them really exist?

 This was bad behavior, no class and then some.

I was a divorced woman myself in my late 30's and early 40's and I thought I had met some "frogs" along the way. But looking back now, these guys all look like saints compared to the motley crew that Missi has the misfortune of hooking up with, time after time.

The wisdom:

There many reminders for readers along the way, what to look for when it comes to finding a suitable partner/mate in the roller-coaster world of middle-aged dating. 

Even more important, to always be mindful of respecting ourselves enough not to settle for just anyone to keep us company or to warm up a bed. It's not worth it, it never works out and we are left even lonelier at the end of the day, when they move on.

Missi was starting to learn that lesson but in the meantime, wow...that woman sure did kiss a whole lotta' frogs!!!

Especially if you are 40 or older, divorced and dating (and MEN should read this book too)....this is one you won't want to miss. 

But even if you aren't part of the dating scene right now, this is a worthwhile, entertaining and oh so funny book. 

Overall rating for this eBook: Excellent. 5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Summer Contest at Veggies, Yarns & Tails!





I thought it was long overdue that I posted a new contest, at any of my blogs so here goes! ;-)

Stop by to read the details at Veggies, Yarns & Tails (my cooking, craft and cat blog) and to enter too. It's easy-peasy to enter btw. 

And also, to read what I'm going to be "up to" in the next little while!

Good luck to all! :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin (Griffin estate edition)





Do you remember reading the book: Black Like Me as a teenager? I do. 

I read the first edition of this book, while I was in high school, living here in Canada. 

It touched me deeply at the time and now, reading it again this past week, in this new updated edition, it touched me even more as an adult. Reading and contemplating the story of Griffin's amazing journey to the deep South of the US in late 1959; a white man disguised (with the use of drugs, sunlamp treatments and make-up) as a black man.

What came to mind as I finished reading this book for the second time, was the incredible and hard-to-imagine courage that John Howard Griffin showed, in taking on this project. He certainly could have been killed. And he did endure injury and repeated threats to himself and to his family because of what he did and for many years to follow.


I found the additional information in this new estate edition, about Griffin's life, fascinating too. I did not realize that he had been blind for 10 years, earlier in life and also that he died at the relatively early age of 60.

His was a life that mattered. 

I hope that it is still on reading lists in schools. Does anyone know if it is?
The relevance of what he did and his place in US history,will never die.

Overall rating for this book/Ebook: Excellent. 5 out of 5. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dr. Scholl's Exercise Sandals




I had a pair of these Dr. Scholl's Exercise Sandals many years ago, when I was a teenager. Actually, EVERYONE had a pair of these sandals (or so it seemed) in the 70's! I just loved mine. 

When I noted on Amazon recently that these were still available (and at the best price I could find anywhere online, including over at eBay) I put them on my birthday "wish list" and lo and behold, a pair arrived for me, as a gift that day. ;-) Thanks Joe!

Mine are navy blue and are very similar to the ones I had years ago. I think the soles are a bit different but otherwise, the same design as I remember. 

They take a bit of getting use to wearing again, with the toe/foot grip feature, on the wooden sole. But after wearing them inside for the past couple of weeks, I just love how they feel. They really do seem to give your feet and legs a mini-workout!

There is one feature that I do not like on these sandals and that is the buckle. I don't remember this being an issue years ago but they are VERY hard to open and close. 

Over at Amazon, I did read the suggestions made by other customers who had bought these sandals but still wasn't able to get them to undo. I didn't want to break the clasp or scratch them up, trying to get them open. Joe tried as well.

I then contacted the Dr. Scholl's company and got a reply with these instructions how to open the buckle:

1. You will need both hands - - place both index fingers under the strap (the shoe should be sideways) and then place one thumb on each side of the buckle and press down while sliding the buckle out (you may need to press down on the buckle with as much force as possible while sliding the strap to the desired notch)

2. Pull the band to the right so that it is no longer in the buckle

3. Decide which hole in the band will provide the correct fit

4. Insert the end of the band into the buckle, pressing the hole in the band onto the metal peg that is located on the buckle

5. Slide the buckle to the right to secure the band

----

I still don't understand why these have to be so hard to adjust. 

I have never had any other shoes or sandals that required actual written instructions when it came to adjusting a strap!

I did suggest to Dr. Scholl's that they should be including these directions or diagrams with their sandals, if they are going to continue to make this type of adjustment buckle design. I read a LOT of complaints about this feature online!

It turned out that the instructions they sent me were NOT for these particular sandals. The ones I have actually have a hinge that needed to be lifted up, to adjust the strap. It took a LOT OF STRENGTH to get this hinge open. Joe did it but I know I couldn't have managed on my own, maybe with a screwdriver but not just with my hands. How anyone with any kind of strength/hand issues could open these, is also hard to imagine. 

This is a VERY poor design for a sandal closure. 

I have written to the company again about this. They should take a look at this buckle and do something about it. 

Otherwise, I am loving this retro-sandal and can't wait for the weather to warm up just a bit more and start wearing them outside. 

Now I need to start working on getting my feet and toes in good shape!

Bring on the foot cream!!! My tootsies sure need it. ;-)

Overall rating for this product: Good. 3 out of 5. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Are You In For International Screen- Free Week: May 5-11?




You can read more about this upcoming global movement here.

This is NOT about going screen free for work or essentials.

It was a perfect time for me to participate so I'm in!

Happy Screen Free Week ;-)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Good Day Yoga by Julie Schoen





I am really impressed by the new Kindle book: 


I have been practicing hatha yoga for many years (on and off) and have looked at many books and DVDs on this topic, during that time. This Ebook is one of the best that I've seen to date.


Author Julie Schoen, gives the reader many good reasons why starting the day with yoga is a very good idea.


I've always been a night-time yoga person, but after reading the many benefits of adding a yoga session earlier in the day, I'm thinking I'll definitely try to add yoga to my mornings too, at least on some days. Right now, I'm just trying to decide which sequence of poses in this book I want to start with. ;-) 


This Ebook provides three different yoga sequences that each include 15-16 easy to follow poses that would be suitable for most yoga advocates, even many beginners. 


The poses flow nicely one into the other. I appreciate that; that's not always the case with other yoga Ebooks/books and DVDs.

Each pose includes full color photos, so much better than diagrams IMO.

Great formatting and written with an engaging style, also adding to the overall appeal of this Ebook.


I'm so impressed by this Ebook that I plan to check out more books by this author. I noted that she has several others pertaining to yoga too.


If you already love yoga or have just been considering starting a practice, give Good Day Yoga a try. 

I think you'll be glad you did. ;-)


Overall rating for this Ebook: Excellent. 5 out of 5

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How To Knit Socks for Beginners by Sandra Harris





As an avid and long-time knitter, I've looked at a lot of knitting books and Ebooks over the years. When it comes to those specifically created for beginner sock knitters, this is one of the best I've seen, to date.

Author Sandra Harris has done a great job with:

How To Knit Socks for Beginners


The information included is written in an easy to understand way. 

Instructions are clear and concise.

Chapters include:

- The Anatomy of a Sock
-Toe-Up Sock

-Knitting Two Socks at a Time

 -Advanced and Beginner Cuff Down Socks

-Darning and Mending (I learned some tips on that topic!)

and several other pertinent topics, including several sock patterns.

I haven't actually tried any of the patterns in this Ebook yet, but reading through them, they look like they would work just fine! If any of you do try these, let me know how they work out. I'm currently taking a bit of a break from sock knitting myself but I know I'll be back to it, by the fall. It's kind of addictive, after you've made that first pair! LOL

This Ebook is nicely formatted too, with full color photos throughout. As a Kindle author myself, I know how much work goes into formatting an Ebook properly. And it does add a lot to any type of book, when it is done well. 


And speaking of photos, I think they are so much better and easier than diagrams in any kind of yarn-craft book, especially for beginners to follow.


If you've always wanted to knit socks but perhaps thought they were too difficult for a beginner knitter, think again. How To Knit Socks for Beginners, will have you turning out lovely knit socks for yourself and for gifts, in no time.



PS: At the time of posting this, this Ebook is available free over at Amazon, so a great time to get a copy! ;-)



Overall rating for this Ebook: Excellent. 5 out of 5






Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers (gluten-free)







Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers are the best gluten- free crackers that I've tasted, to date. 

Many of the other gluten-free cracker brands that I've tried, like Blue Diamond, as one example, have a very strange texture, bland flavor and are not appealing at all.

These Crunchmaster crackers actually taste good on their own, no topping required unless you want to add something to them. That to me is the "true test" of overall cracker-appeal. ;-)

 I  also think they are just salty enough and the rosemary has a nice, not overbearing flavor. They come in other flavors too, but the Rosemary and Olive Oil is my fav. Absolutely fab with some hummus on top, a delish and satisfying snack, anytime of the day. And they have a wonderful crunchy texture that adds to their overall appeal in a big way.


My only complaint, one package I got had about a third of the crackers broken into small pieces. I ended up using these in veggie patties so not wasted. I haven't had another pack with that many broken crackers since but I think the packaging could be better. I did contact the company about this a few weeks ago, but haven't received a reply.

I also hope that the company adds an organic option to this cracker brand. I'm all for organics, in everything and this would make these crackers an even better choice.

Here is the ingredient/nutritional info. from the back of the package:



If you've been looking for a good gluten-free cracker or even if you aren't concerned about gluten in foods, give these a try. I think you'll like them! :-)

Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5


Sunday, April 20, 2014

How I Roll by J. Bryant Neville Jr.





How I Roll by Bryant Neville Jr. is not the kind of book I normally pick to read. But I noted it on one of the Top 100 Kindle lists at Amazon recently, for inspirational books and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did.

I was inspired by Bryant's true life story of how he has faced his disability head-on, from the young age of 17, when he was involved in a car accident to the present day, at age 47.

I learned a lot about the reality of what it means to live life in a wheelchair and how a person with a disability like this must learn to adapt to so many "givens" that we take for granted, like going to the bathroom, bathing, showering... etc. Although I'm rather a squeamish person, I did not find these references particularly gross or hard to read; just enlightening. 

It certainly put my own (by comparison, small) challenges over the years into perspective too. How Bryant has adjusted and gone on to having a very successful life in every way, is truly inspiring for anyone who reads this book. 

His disability obviously changed his life forever, but it certainly didn't defeat him. He has accomplished so much, in spite of his disability including: graduating from college, rising up through the ranks for several upper-level employers and raising a family of his own.  


I thought the book was well written, in a realistic but still for the most part, sensitive way.

Bryant has an incredible family who really helped him to get to where he has in life, in spite of his disability. I was touched by the love that he conveyed for all the people who are close to him, including many friends who stuck by him, through the years. In that respect, Bryant is blessed so much more, than many people in similar circumstances.


There was only one sentence that I found a bit surprising and insensitive and this was not in relation to Bryant's injury. It was in reference to a weekend at the Daytona 500 when one of the drivers was tragically killed in a race. 


When asked by a friend after the weekend was over, how things had gone and if he had HAD FUN, Bryant replied: 

"Absolutely! The seats were amazing and everyone had a blast."


Wow, that didn't sound right and it bothered me, reading this. 


Other than that, a good book and one that I definitely think would help a lot of people who are struggling with big challenges and adjustments in life (of any kind) as Bryant has so capably done.

I did not find the book overly religious either. I don't like that in a book and I didn't agree with some comments from other reviewers over at Amazon, in this regard. Obviously, Bryant's faith is important to him and that is conveyed throughout this story, but not in a preachy or overbearing way.



Overall rating for this Ebook: Very Good. 4 out of 5. 
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