Thursday, May 6, 2010

How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth on Mother's Day

By John E. Wade II,
Editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

A perfect gift for Mother's Day could be the exciting, optimistic and ambitious book, How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth. It contains essays of hope and promise, something that mothers embody as they introduce new life into our world.

Women today, especially in the United States, are accomplishing more and more in field after field of human endeavor. They can be the leaders in recognizing the ambitious and awesome possibilities in such a gift.

I believe ten elements will be included in a heaven on earth: peace, security, freedom, democracies, prosperity, spiritual harmony, racial harmony, ecological harmony and health as well as moral purpose and meaning. Each of these categories in the book is supported by essays as well as one more category, Individual Paths to Heaven on Earth. Women will be an integral part of this hopeful process with a book that outlines the goals, obstacles, means and faith to attain that ultimate destiny.

Contributors to the book include Presidents Obama and Bush, Vice President Al Gore, Tony Blair and a host of notables and ordinary people who have extraordinary things to say.

Let me give you some specifics from two of the 101 essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers that will show you how mothers will be thrilled to read and devour this book.

A heart-rending essay is "Many Mothers" by Maida Rogerson, a wonderful person whom I have met who wrote about a Santa Fe charity. It starts with this: "Imagine. You've just had your first baby. Your husband is in a new job and doesn't have a lot of time for you. You've moved away from your extended family. Suddenly, there you are, you and your beautiful baby, home, alone. Your baby starts to cry, and you're dead tired and all you want to do is cry yourself, and you have no one to turn to."

That's where Many Mothers comes in with " . . . volunteers of grandmothers, aunts, businesswomen and often other mothers." . . . "Knowing that bonding and attachment in infancy are necessary to create healthy adults," the charity acts by nurturing the mother. The chores are broad -- cleaning and other mundane tasks may be part of the volunteer's normal duties. The joy of helping mothers goes in all directions just as you would expect in a heaven on earth.

In "Women Who Never Give Up," Sharon L. Davie visits a women's cooperative in Kenya. She explains that such groups " . . . come together with serious purpose . . . and number in the tens of thousands, with millions of individual women involved." This is not a new phenomenon, but has existed throughout Kenya's history in one form or another.

In their society " . . . most women cannot inherit or buy land, so they bought their house as a collective." Gradually they bought " . . . a cow -- which led to shared milk, calves, then chickens and eggs, and finally a mill to grind their maize and millet."

When asked if men could have such a cooperative, "The whole group [women in the cooperative] laughed uproariously. They thought that was a ridiculous idea. 'They would drink up all the money!' they said."

Asked about violence, " . . . they told of the woman in the next village who was being brutally beaten by her husband, over and over. She ran away -- not something that women do, they said. Men can beat women and they must stay." Eventually, the group helped the woman and even assisted her in building a house.

Women will no doubt assume greater and greater roles throughout the world as their unique talents go beyond the survival stage such as some in Kenya, on the striving stage which is being demonstrated day by day, to the thriving stage, which will be part of the path toward a heaven on earth.

Happy Mother's Day

Copyright © 2010 John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

Author Bio
John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers, is an author, investor, philanthropist, and founder of the nonprofit organization Soldiers of Love. An active member of his church and civic organizations in his area, Wade holds an M.A. from the University of Georgia and has worked in a range of fields. His extensive travels, including visits to China, India, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Brazil, inspired him to collect the essays in this work. Wade lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.
For more information, please visit

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gourmet Roasted Tomato Chili Chicken Wrap

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hormel Foods. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hormel has been around forever! In the 30s, characters Jiggs and Maggie from “Bringing Up Father” were used in Dinty Moore® advertisements. Later, a lumber jack character was introduced, proclaiming “First name’s Dinty, last name’s Moore,” who placed his signature thumbprint on every can. Utilizing celebrities proved to be a popular route in promoting Hormel® chili. Ray Milland, star of “Copper Canyon,” appeared in print ads. In the 80s, pro football player Fran Tarkenton was tapped to promote Hormel® chili.
From the classic Hormel® chili con carne to new, premium Hormel® Chili Master™ varieties such as white chicken chili and roasted tomato, and from Dinty Moore® cans to new Dinty Moore® HeartyMeals™ varieties such as chicken pot pie and noodles and beef, the brands continue to expand their product offerings while remaining family favorites in cabinets across the country.

Dinty Moore(R) and Hormel(R) chili celebrate their 75th Anniversary. Check out these cool commercials!
I love Vintage! The brand has changed so much over the years.
What's your favorite Hormel Dinty Moore Ad? 
I love the Dinty Moore Beef
Stew Comic Ads.

Here is a recipe I created using the new Hormel Roasted Tomato Chili Master.
Gourmet Roasted Tomato Chili Chicken Wrap
What you need-
Sliced Chicken
Sauteed Mushrooms
Mozzarella Cheese
Hormel's New Roasted Tomato Chili Master
Spinach - Sauteed with Garlic or Raw
Whole Wheat or Spinach Wrap

Take the Roasted Tomato Sauce and Spoon it onto your wrap 
layer remaining ingredients and pop into oven, toaster, or grill.
As long as it's melted it's all Good!
This is my favorite way to eat Hormel Chili, what's yours?
Check out recipes

Visit my sponsor: Hormel Chili

My $60 Electric Bill

I opened my electric bill the other day and it was $60. It has even gotten as low as $47. Sometimes I get calls from companies who want to show me how to save money on my electric bill but when I tell them what I pay they laugh and tell me they couldn't help me.

How is my electric bill so low? Well, it's a combination of things.

My home is on the smaller side so naturally, that helps BUT to counter that, 
it is older and the homes now are a lot more efficient. So if you are in a newer home, you can save more.
I live in Florida. The Winters are usually mild so we don't use the heat or a/c.
This winter however was a lot colder and we used the heat. Our bill was around $120, we only used the heat at night and just put more clothes on. We also use thermal curtains to keep the heat in.
During the Spring and Fall I keep the windows open. Sure I have to dusk a lot more 
but the breeze feels so nice.
Summer, well I am in Florida so that a/c comes on when I'm not at the beach.

During the day we don't use lights. We open our curtains for natural light.
In the evening we don't use many lights. When we are finished in a room, the light goes off.
After the children go to bed we use our light on a dimmer or pendant lights while watching t.v.

I wash everything in cold. They even make special detergents for that. You are suppose to save $10 
a load by washing in cold. Sounds good for me!

During the summer I hang my clothes outside. I wait until they are almost dry then bring them back in and toss them in the dryer with a fabric sheet for a little bit. They don't get that nasty tought feel clothes usually get
being hung out on the line.

I LOVE to cook but we don't bake too much, only occassionally.
We grill a lot outside too so that helps with our electric bill. 

I don't use a microwave and when my coffee (decaf for me :) or hot water is finished brewing
I transfer it to a large thermas to keep it hot and turn the coffee maker off. 
The coffee maker staying on keeping your coffee warm is just wasting energy and do that day after day it really adds up.

These are just simple things you can do. You can even take it further and get an energy efficient water heater or put a timer on yours. I do neither although I should.  Hope I helped and hope you see your bill coming down soon.


E-Book: WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter Review

TOS Magazine Store offers several e-books in the WannaBe series. 
They have everything from Chef, Doctor, to Veterinarian. 
I was sent Firefighter to review with my girls.
Wow. This was packed with so much information! Math, science, fire safety from Wilshire the fire dog,
history, anything and everything you would ever want to know about being a fire fighter. 
My guidance counselor had NOTHING on this program. I suggest this for anyone thinking of this for a career.

They say this program is for ages 4 - 10 but even I found it so interesting and educational.
My 5yr old informed me she does NOT want to be a firefighter and through much of it she frankly couldn't care less. She did however enjoy the cross word puzzles, the sign language, and the physical fitness games. I can't wait for her to try one she is actually wants to learn about.
My 3 yr old was much more interested, she hung on every word. She especially loved the robots and the coloring pages. Just goes to show you how different two children are.

I thought it was really neat how they have instructions on having a fire fighter themed party.
I know a lot of mommies who would be interested in that!
This program is jam packed and only costs $8.95. Yep, that's it. It was hard for me to believe too!

This month they are having a HUGE special. You can buy all of them for $35.80 instead of their regular price of $89.50.
My 5yr old has already informed me she wants to try the Farmer, Artist, and Veterinarian programs next :)

Celebrating Mom This Mother's Day! (Recipes too!)

By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich,
Author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

In my family, favorite dishes are always being altered according to what is available in the market and what is the best in quality -- especially when I'm cooking. Family meals together are near and dear to my heart, and I am always looking for a reason to cook a big meal to share with my grandchildren, children and with Mother's Day just around the corner, my mother Erminia, who we all fondly call "Grandma."

Growing up, my brother and I loved our mother's Chicken & Potatoes, fried together in a big skillet so they're crisp and moist at the same time -- this was my mother's, or "Grandma's" specialty, and it was our favorite! This simple and delicious dish has now been passed down through the family, and my grandchildren are always asking me to make it. When I am at the stove -- and though I follow my mother's basic procedures -- I can't resist playing around with the recipe and adding my own flair to it. However, here I'm sharing her Classic Chicken & Potatoes recipe. Maybe you can make it for your mother this Mother's Day. And for something sweet, I have the perfect recipe that "Grandma" absolutely loves -- my Sweet Ricotta Dumplings with Strawberry Sauce. These delicate and creamy morsels sit beautifully in a crimson pool of fresh strawberry sauce.

So this Mother's Day, why not get into the kitchen with mom? Cooking, eating and laughing together is a wonderful way to celebrate your mom this Mother's Day and all year round.

From Lidia's Family Table
Serves 4 or more

For the Basic Chicken and Potatoes:

* 2- ½ pounds chicken legs or assorted pieces (bone-in)
* ½ cup canola oil
* ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
* 1 pound red bliss potatoes, preferably no bigger than 2 inches across
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 medium-small onions, peeled and quartered lengthwise
* 2 short branches fresh rosemary with plenty of needles

For My Special Touches -- Try Either or Both:

* 4 to 6 ounces sliced bacon (5 or 6 slices)
* 1 or 2 pickled cherry peppers, sweet or hot, or none -- or more! -- cut in half and seeded

Prepping and Browning the Chicken (and Bacon) and Potatoes:

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off the excess skin and all visible fat. Cut the drumsticks from the thighs. If using breast halves, cut into two small pieces.

Make the bacon roll-ups: Cut the bacon slices in half crosswise and roll each strip into a neat, tight cylinder. Stick a toothpick through the roll to secure it; cut or break the toothpick so only a tiny bit sticks out (allowing the bacon to roll around and cook evenly.)

Pour the canola oil into the skillet and set it over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt on all sides. When the oil is very hot, lay the pieces in it, skin side down, and an inch or so apart -- watch out for oil spatters. Don't crowd the chicken: if necessary, fry it in batches, with similar pieces (like drumsticks) together.

Drop the bacon rolls into the oil around the chicken, turning and shifting them often. Let the chicken pieces fry in place for several minutes to brown on the underside, then turn and continue frying until they're golden brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes or more. Fry breast pieces only for 5 minutes or so, taking them out of the oil as soon as they are golden. Let the bacon rolls cook and get slightly crisp, but not dark. Adjust the heat to maintain steady sizzling and coloring; remove the crisped chicken pieces with tongs to a bowl.

Meanwhile, rinse and dry the potatoes; slice each one through the middle on the axis that gives the largest cut surface, then toss them with the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.

When all the chicken and bacon is cooked and out of the skillet, pour off the frying oil. Return the skillet to medium heat and put in all the potatoes, cut side down in a single layer, into the hot pan. With a spatula, scrape all the olive oil out of the mixing bowl into the skillet; drizzle over it a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Fry and crisp the potatoes for about 4 minutes to form a crust, then move them around the pan, still cut side down, until they're all brown and crisp, 7 minutes or more. Turn them over, and fry another 2 minutes to cook and crisp on their rounded skin sides.

Cooking Everything Together:

Still over medium heat, toss the onion wedges and rosemary branches around the pan, in with the potatoes. If using cherry peppers, either hot or sweet, cut the seeded halves into ½-inch wide pieces and scatter them in the pan too.

Return the chicken pieces -- except breast pieces -- to the pan, along with the bacon rolls; pour in any chicken juices that have accumulated. Raise the heat slightly, and carefully turn and tumble the chicken, potatoes, and onion (and bacon and/or pepper juices), so they're heating and getting coated with pan juices -- but take care not to break the potato pieces. Spread everything out in the pan -- potatoes on the bottom as much as possible, to keep crisping up -- and cover.

Return the heat to medium, and cook for about 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, then uncover and tumble the pieces and potatoes (and bacon rolls) again. Cover, and cook another 7 minutes or so, adding the breast pieces at this point. Give everything another tumble. Now cook covered for 10 minutes more.

Remove the cover, turn the pieces again, and cook in the open skillet for about 10 minutes to evaporate the moisture and caramelize everything. Taste a bit of potato (or chicken) for salt, and sprinkle on more as needed. Turn the pieces now and then; when they are all glistening and golden, and the potatoes are cooked through, remove the skillet from the stove and -- as I do at home -- bring it right to the table. Serve portions of chicken and potatoes, or let people help themselves.

From Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
Makes about 18 canederli, serving 6

* 3 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 6 cups)
* ½ cup sugar
* ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice for the canederli
* 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
* 6 tablespoons butter
* 1 pound fresh ricotta, drained
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup all-purpose flour

Put the cut strawberries in the saucepan (or cut them right into it), pour the sugar and lemon juice over, and toss together. Set the pan over medium-low heat; stir occasionally as the berries release juice and it gradually starts to bubble. Adjust the heat to keep the juice simmering, and cook for about 8 minutes, until the berries are soft and the juice is slightly syrupy. Turn off the heat, and cover the pot to keep the sauce warm.

Meanwhile, fill the big pot with about 6 quarts water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and heat it to a boil. Put the butter in the big skillet and melt it over very low heat; turn off the flame, but leave the skillet on the warm burner.

For the dough: Dump the ricotta into a large bowl, and stir to loosen it and break up lumps, then blend in the eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt. Sprinkle all the flour on top, and fold it in gently, just until it is all incorporated, with no small clumps of dry flour. The dough will be stiff and somewhat sticky.

Adjust the heat so the cooking water is bubbling gently. Fill a glass or jar with cold water to moisten the scoop, so the dough doesn't stick. Dip the ice-cream scoop into the water glass, scoop up a round of dough, level it off (scraping excess back in the bowl), and dispense the dumpling into the cooking pot. Scoop up all the dough in the same way, and get the dumplings cooked as quickly as possible. If you don't have an ice-cream scoop, use a ¼-cup measure. Empty each portion into your hand (both hands must be lightly floured!), and quickly roll it into a ball, then drop the dumpling into the pot.

As you form the canederli, keep the scoop moistened (or your hands floured) and the water at a gentle simmer: don't let it boil vigorously, which can break apart the canederli.

After all are in the pot, let the dumplings cook, without stirring, until all have risen to the surface of the water. Simmer them another 5 minutes, and then scoop one out and test it for doneness. First, press it gently: it should feel solid and spring back to the touch. If it feels soft at the center, return it to the pot and cook the batch a minute or two longer. Scoop out another dumpling, and cut into it to check that the center is not wet and oozing and that the dough looks uniformly cooked through.

Meanwhile, have the big skillet with melted butter warming over very low heat. Lift out the cooked dumplings with a spider, let them drain over the pot for a few seconds, then gently drop them in the skillet. Roll the dumplings gently so they're coated all over with butter, then turn off the heat and leave them in the warm pan for a few minutes to firm up.

Serve the canederli on warm dessert plates, spooning a pool of strawberry sauce in the center of each plate and setting two or three canederli on top. For family-style serving, arrange the canederli in a large, rimmed platter and drizzle some of the strawberry sauce around them in a colorful border. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.

© 2010 Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes
Author Bio
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, coauthor of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipe, is the author of five previous books, four of them accompanied by nationally syndicated public television series. She is the owner of the New York City restaurant Felidia (among others), and she lectures on and demonstrates Italian cooking throughout the country. She lives on Long Island, and can be reached at her Web site,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Get a Sample of Pampers Cruisers Dry Max

Get a Sample of Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max
First Ever High Performance Diaper

Expedition Australia Home schooling Curriculum Review

I've been homeschooling my girls in one form or another since my oldest was 2. They are now 5 & 3.  I spend hours every week coming up with lesson plans, coordinating books and videos so my girls get a well rounded lesson. We utilize the computer and our local library as much as possible to keep the price down. I do this because while homeschooling is the best choice for my family, it can get very expensive.

I was excited when we received Expedition Australia, a Download and Go Unit Study By Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse to review. I wouldn't have to search and put together lessons this week whoo hoo! This program is for children from k - 4th grade. It's a weeks worth of lessons that are very hands on.
I admit, I was a little worried that it wouldn't hold my 5yr old's attention for too long because of her age but that was hardly the case.  She kept asking for more!
This program was really amazing. It had videos, she has learned her continents, and she's even running around the house "speaking" Austrailian to everyone with the vocabulary words she learned. It was very interactive! You can make a lapbook to go along with it. (We haven't done that yet but intend on it - Here is a site about lapbooks
She looked up the time here and a city in Australia which she thought was the neatest thing. A little of it was above her head but that was alright, it just means we can use it again and again. It is up to 4th grade. She will get a lot of use out of it. My 3 yr old was even sticking her nose in and asking questions which made this mommy very happy. 
What did I love the most about it? I didn't have to spend all that time putting together a lesson plan of course. There was so much packed into this study that I wouldn't have been able to come up with something so cool any way. The best part was the price. $7.95 You can buy several of them together with their bundle option and Save. So extra time for this mommy and affordable, yep.I give this an A+!!
My daughter has even picked out which one she wants to study next :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

4 Tips for Gradual Weaning

Your baby has grown so fast that before you know it, you’re thinking about weaning. Now what? Here are a few tips to help make the transition easier for you and your little one.

#1: Be Flexible

Weaning is best when done gradually. Child-led weaning is great because you nurse until your child is developmentally and emotionally ready to stop. But child-led is not strictly initiated by the child-moms (and dads) still play a major role in guiding their child through the weaning process.

With child-led weaning, you guide your child to seek out other means of comfort and nutrition besides breastfeeding, all the while taking your child’s pace and feelings in consideration. Drop one nursing session at a time. If your child is overly distraught and is pleading to nurse, let her.

Look for signs that weaning is going to fast for your child. Signs may include clinginess, increased night waking, separation anxiety, refusal to eat, new thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, sudden biting or withdrawal. If you notice any of these signs, slow down and offer the breast.

#2 – Cut Out One Nursing at a Time

Cut out the least important nursing session of the day. You can either forgo it completely and offer your baby a distraction (reading a book, playing, a bottle of water, snack etc.) or work on shortening that session down to nothing. Aim to eliminate one feeding every 3 to 7 days for your comfort. If your child is happy and not too bothered by the decrease in breastfeeding, you know you’ve found your weaning cadence. If your baby is miserable, he might not be ready to wean, or at least not at the pace you’re aiming for.

#3: “Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse”

Weaning can be hard on a child. Nursing is much more than nutrition-it’s about comfort and relaxation. It feels good for all involved. Therefore, your child may have a hard time with weaning.

“Don’t offer, don’t refuse” is a method of weaning that is based on your child’s needs. This method can take awhile, but your child still gets the benefits of nursing on demand. You don’t offer your breast but you don’t tell your child “no” when she wants to nurse. Many moms naturally follow this method as their children grow older.

#4: Replace One Comfort with Another

If you want to move past the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” stage, try substituting a fun activity for nursing. Some babies want to nurse out of boredom. Give them something else to do. Read a book, give your child a cup or some solid food, go outside, provide some non-nursing cuddle time, play with a favorite toy or go on an outing.

Don’t wait until your child is pleading to nurse before you offer distractions. Try to anticipate it and engage him in an activity before he can tap your chest to nurse. Choose an unimportant breastfeeding session, not one at night or first thing in the morning. Eventually your child will lose interest in nursing (believe it or not).

For more practical advice from breastfeeding moms including product reviews, visit

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Baby Steps Part 3: The Whys and the Wherefores

The reasons for making any lifestyle change have to be compelling, or those changes won’t stick. On one level, I knew that eating better foods would benefit my family, but since none of my children have any major health issues that demanded an immediate change, in the beginning I kind of dragged my feet. We were never the kind of family to consistently eat horrible food; we weren’t eating fried Twinkies or a steady diet of fast food.

But at the same time, we did use processed food. My kids ate breakfast pastries. I made scalloped potatoes from a box, with the powder and dehydrated potatoes. It was easy, it was convenient, and my family enjoyed it.

True, my husband had some weight and health concerns. And yes, our son has asthma. But I never truly believed that diet changes would make a huge difference.

What really made an impression on me—finally—were some of the facts that Lee shared at that Healthy Eating class held in my kitchen.

The first thing that surprised me was the news about fats. Most of us in this generation grew up understanding that butter is bad. Margarine is a safer alternative. Canola oil is the safe and healthy way to cook foods that must use oil.

What Lee shared was eye-opening, to say the least. She told us that our bodies need healthy fats, especially saturated fats: animal fats and tropical oils, including butter, lard and coconut oil. These fats are called stable, as they don’t become rancid even after heating. Monosaturated fats like olive oil and peanut oil also can be used for cooking.

However, polyunsaturated fats, like soy, corn and canola—yes, canola!—oils are quite reactive, meaning that they go rancid fast and should never be heated. Never! The corn and canola oils you buy from your grocery store have been allowed to go rancid and then refined and bleached. YUCK!

I was actually happy to learn that incorporating some fats into our diet is a GOOD thing. According to Lee, “Butter from cows eating rapidly growing grass is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.”

We have begun ordering our butter through our organic vegetable co-op; our butter and cheese come from an Amish farm. We don’t use any form of artificial butter, and may I just say. . .yum?

Another piece of good news was hamburger. When Lee sent me the name of a local farmer who sells her grass-fed, humanely raised, non-hormone including beef, I told her that we had stopped eating much red meat. I was happily surprised when she shared that having a hamburger—from this good kind of meat—once a week might help my newly diagnosed osteoarthritis. The burgers we’ve made have been the best I have eaten in my entire life. And I eat them with a light and happy heart!

We’ve switched almost entirely to olive oil and coconut oil. I say almost because we still have a little leftover canola oil that I’ve used in non-heating situations. Be assured that I won’t be buying anymore!

I also learned some important facts on proteins, sugars and carbohydrates. I’ll be sharing them with you as we go along in this series.

So why did what I learned from Lee that day make me change my family’s way of eating? I think at least part of it was shock factor. Hearing how much of what I had accepted as truth was really not shook me. And of course, not all of this was completely new to me. But hearing it, seeing the documentation and reading the studies—that was the final push I needed.

And it simply felt right. Cooking and eating this was—this new, old way—hearkened back to my history. Both of my grandmothers, women who were very influential in my life, grew up on farms. My maternal grandmother cooked from scratch almost all of her life; she fed thirteen children, her husband, grandchildren and various other people who showed up at her table with the simple bounty of the land. She canned her own vegetables and fruits. She made her own bread.

When my mother married, though, it was the mid-1960’s, and cooking from scratch was considered hopelessly old-fashioned. My mother would have sooner flown to the moon than to have canned tomatoes. She made her rice from a flow-through bag; her recipes usually included canned soup or other processed foods. I’m not criticizing her; she was a good cook, and she was a product of her generation. But when I began to cook after my marriage, I found I wanted to more. I liked canning tomatoes. I enjoyed making my own bread.

This new way of eating—it’s not that new. It’s a return to a real and literally down to earth way of life.

(Credit for the information in this article goes to Lee Burdett. Check out her website at

Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to almost 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE. You can also follow Tawdra on twitter and her blog, Publishing Quest

It Is All in the Way You Think Review & Author Interview

                                                       “It Is All in the Way You Think”

By Karen Repassy

It’s so hard to see our children suffer in any way, even—or especially--when we can see that it’s at least partly their own way of thinking that’s making things so hard.

Negative thinking and its effect is the message of Karen Repassy’s debut children’s book It Is All in the Way You Think. The book is a thoughtful lesson in how outlook influences our feelings and choices.

Young Sarah awakes one morning, and it seems that one thing after another goes wrong. Looking in the mirror, she sees frizzy, mousy hair instead of curls. Feeling insecure, she glumly predicts bombing a spelling test and assumes that giggling girls on the bus are laughing at her. At every turn, her own negativity colors what she sees and how she acts.

After school, Sarah pours out her woes to her sympathetic mother, who takes the opportunity to enlighten her daughter about positive thinking, telling her, “Remember, you always have a choice on how you think and feel about something!”

The next day, Sarah puts her mother’s advice into action and is amazed to see how beautiful the world looks when seen through hopeful and positive eyes.

The insightful words of Repassy’s story are reflected in the illustrations as well. At the beginning of the book, Sarah is drawn in black and white, with only small glimpses of color. As Sarah’s way of thinking changes, the pictures become brighter and more colorful.

It Is All in the Way You Think is available at .

Karen Repassy, author of the children’s book It Is All in the Way You Think, is a yoga teacher, writer, wife and homeschooling mother. The story behind the book is a glimpse into Karen’s own journey in life.

TTFM: What inspired you to write It Is All in the Way You Think?
Karen: There is a lot of history that inspired me to write this book. I was 30 years old and I had everything I ever dreamed of: a home, supportive husband, and I was a stay at home mom. I always lived my life based on the idea that when I have “this” I will be happy. Well, I had all the things I expected to make me happy, but I was very depressed. After a “dark night of the soul” when I surrendered everything and prayed for help, literally the next day I had friends handing me books/affirmation cards saying “I thought of you when I saw this.” Everything that fell into my hands from that day forward had to do with thoughts and how powerful they were. I had an inkling of this growing up, but I don’t think I understood it. I started taking inventory of my thoughts and I discovered I really did not think too highly of myself. I started first to shift my thoughts of others (judgments-I feel judgments are reflections of what we do not like within ourselves), because that was easier, then thoughts of myself. When I began doing this and changing my perspective of things, my life began to change. I began to find joy in life, synchronicities were happening, and everything around me “looked” different. Most importantly, I started to genuinely like myself.

I wanted to teach children the amazing treasure I discovered when I was thirty years old. I thought, wouldn’t it have been great if had known this when I was a kid? I was sitting with my family on the couch one evening and I had what I call an “inspired moment”. The idea popped into my head and I HAD to get it out. I went into the office, shut the door, and I wrote “It Is All in the Way You Think” in 45 minutes. As I reread my story, I realized that I was Sarah on the first day in the story the first 30 years of my life. That is how I looked at life. I always thought negative things were going on around me, people were saying things about me, no one liked me, and I did not like myself physically. I was shown often enough it was not true, because that one person I thought did not like me would suddenly come up to me and say that she DID like me, or the complete opposite of what I was thinking would show itself in some way or another. I had often missed the good, because I was so busy on focusing what I thought was the truth. However I never GOT it until I started shifting my thoughts and my perspective. I was creating “untruths” in my head all my life and these “untruths” were exactly what I saw in life. When I shifted my perspective, let go, and focused on what WAS true, I was Sarah on the second day. Life became almost magical. I started seeing the good in my life. I still shift back and forth between days, depending on what is going on in my life, but the difference is I recognize it and I take full responsibility for it. As one of my favorite teachers, Wayne Dyer said, “I am much better than I used to be.”

I have always loved children’s books and as a schoolteacher it is one of my favorite avenues to introduce a concept and to branch off my lessons. I wrote this book to use as a medium for my teaching and also as a tool for children and the adults with them to open up to thinking about their thoughts and changing them to a positive perspective.

TTFM: Can you describe the artistic process of the illustrations, as they move from simple black and white to more vibrant colors?
Karen: I LOVE this question, because there is so much growth in myself attached to it. It is a long story, because the beginning leads into the growth of my adding color.

If someone said to me when I was graduating college that I would be a writer, illustrator, and talk/teach about what I was writing about, I would have first laughed, thinking it was some kind of joke. Then when I realized it was not a joke, I would have found a big rock and hidden under it the rest of my life. They were the three things (among many others that do not have to do with the book) I used to think I was NOT good at: writing, drawing, and speaking to an audience. Well, I wrote the book. One down, one thought/perspective changed,: “I CAN write.” However, I needed illustrations for the book. I asked my artist friend to do the illustrations; she attempted it and said she was not comfortable drawing characters. I asked around, and it was very costly to have someone illustrate. Never did it cross my mind that I could do it. Again, one night around midnight I was lying in bed. I had another inspired moment; I could feel it running through my body (for me inspiration means God planting the seed). I was thinking about drawing and I felt this strong urge to draw a picture of my daughter. I grabbed a photograph of her, sat on my couch, and I started drawing. When I finished, I looked at it in awe. It was raw, but there was something there that I had NEVER done before in my drawings. I always loved to draw, but I just thought I was not good enough, and I didn’t have the “gift.” I would become frustrated and give up. I could not draw and that was it. But sitting on my couch that night, I sat there for hours thinking, “What just happened?” I realized I COULD do it, and perhaps I could draw. WOW! What a moment! I contacted a local art studio to inquire about taking a drawing class. The only one available was character drawing for kids. They said I would need to talk to the instructor because it was a kids’ class. I told the instructor my reason for taking the class--to illustrate my own children’s book—and she said, “You have NO experience drawing and you think you can take ONE class and illustrate a book?” She went on laughing for about 2 minutes. I sat quietly on the other end and when her laughter ended, I said, “Yes!” That was a true test of all that I learned in one moment. Apparently, she was in the process of illustrating her own children’s chapter book with her many years of experience, and here I was coming in with NO experience doing the same. It was quite unrealistic to her. Needless to say, I took the class, and she offered the human anatomy drawing class to me as well. I shocked her and myself with this talent I NEVER knew I had. Those were the only two classes I took. That was my only “training.” Two down: I CAN draw.

This leads to the answer to your original question, the color in my illustrations. I could draw my pictures, but what about color? I struggled with this for months, and as I kept hitting my head up against a wall, getting nowhere, I stopped and said, “I CAN do this.” I researched mediums. I really like colored pencils and the control I had with them, but I did not like how they looked; I wanted something softer. I discovered watercolor pencils, but I was soooo not ready to add color to a whole picture. I was feeling inexperienced, and I did not want them to look amateurish. I was also thinking of the cost of the book, because I was feeling drawn to the route of self-publishing-it would be cheaper if there was less color, but I did not want black and white. Then the idea hit me (inspiration again). I could color the positive things she was missing in each picture. This led to the idea of showing the positive things she was missing in each illustration. I did not have to color a lot, and I was comfortable with that. Well, as my confidence grew, so did the book and color in the illustrations. As I got toward the end of the book, I knew I could do every aspect of it. So, as Sarah grew and her perspective and thoughts changed, so did I, toward the end of the book. She began to see all the good going on around her in her life, her life became more colorful and vibrant. In the process, I was starting to feel good as an illustrator, and I was able to add more color to the pictures. I was able to be a full-blown illustrator by the end of the book as Sarah figured it all out for herself, too. When it was all done, it was amazing how the two came together. I really feel the illustrations tell half of the story. If I had not gone through the growth that I did, I would have missed an important aspect to the illustrations. The more positive we become, the more colorful our lives become, too, as well as ourselves (as depicted by the color around Sarah). Everything looks and feels brighter. This is reflected in the story and in me as well.

TTFM: Did you base the story on your own experience or on that of your daughter?
Karen: The book is based on my own experience. It was partially inspired by my daughter, but not on her experiences. My daughter was only three years old when I wrote the book and a very happy, positive child. I did not want her to lose that about herself. She was part of my inspiration, because I wanted to be a better person for her. A depressed, negative mom was NOT what I dreamed of for my daughter. As I mentioned before, I was Sarah on the first day the first 30 years of my life, so Sarah’s experience is mine. However, my daughter was the model for a lot of my illustrations. In the beginning I needed a human figure to look at for my illustrations, and she modeled for me. Everyone who knows my daughter knows the physical attributes of Sarah’s are hers (except my daughter’s hair is not brown), but the character attributes are mine.

TTFM: How does yoga tie into the positive thinking theme that you present in the book?

Karen: In the beginning, along with all the information regarding positive thinking I
was receiving from friends, yoga also come into my life. I instantly fell in love with it. I loved how it made me feel and it was integral in helping me find my self-esteem. I loved the fact that it was non-competitive, and it was just “me and my mat.” Yoga is one of the tools in my toolbox. It helps me calm, de-stress and clear my mind. When I do yoga, it is so much easier for me remain in a positive perspective. Yoga is about being at peace with who you are in present moment of time and feeling good about yourself. In addition, one of the eight limbs of yoga is Yama, which includes non-violence. This includes being non-violent with our words about others and ourselves.

TTFM: Why did you decide to take the publishing route that you did, rather than a 'traditional' agent/publisher route?
Karen: In the beginning, I did submit my book to many different publishers. I submitted it before illustrations, and also when I was in the process of creating the illustrations. I received many rejection letters, although I never let it discourage me. In the interim, I took a class on self-publishing and the whole idea of it intrigued me. As I got deeper and deeper into the project and completed more and more illustrations, I saw my own personal growth emerge. As my book got closer to completion, I decided it would be best to introduce my book under my own business. I had done enough research to know that a publisher would and could change any aspect of the book they felt was not sellable. The idea of the title, illustrations or wording in the book being changed just did not feel right to me. I feel every aspect of the story reveals so much about my own growth and was an important part the message I wanted to convey to the world. If something were changed, my own personal growth would have been changed in the book and would have hindered why I put the book out there in the first place. By self-publishing under my own business, I could share the message of the book and my own personal growth in that manner. Since the release of the book, I have received numerous responses that I had inspired someone (child and adult) to write their own book. A lot of that had to do not only with the book itself but the story behind it. I did not want any of that changed. However, now that the book has been released, I am completely opened to a publisher taking it on. I would LOVE to get the message out there to a larger population.

TTFM: What message would you like children to take from your book?

Karen: I would love for children to learn at a young age that happiness comes from within. We can alter how we perceive our lives by the thoughts we hold and create in our mind. Our happiness does not come from outside circumstances, but from what we hold on the inside about ourselves. Negative thinking becomes a habit. The longer we do a habit, the harder it is to break. I want to catch children at a time when it has not become a habit, when taking inventory of their thoughts and how they feel about themselves is natural. Many of my yoga students have told me I started thinking negatively about myself, but I thought of you and I stopped. That is the message.

TTFM: Any plans for a follow up book?

Karen: Yes, I have started on a second book, but it is in its infancy stage. Just as this book gave birth from my growth, I am in the infancy stage of some things in life and I feel the book will emerge as I do. Everything produced by my business Angelic Remembering, LLC is from my own personal experiences, based on my own growth and products in the future will encompass that.

TTFM: Are children's books your preferred venue?

Yes, at this time it is. I love children’s literature. Also, it is what I am comfortable with at the moment, but as experience has shown with this one book, you never know. As I get the message out there, if the need arises to write adult books, I am open to it. What I have learned through all of this is that it is safe to move out of my comfort zone and what is there to meet me as I move past it is amazing.

TTFM: Please describe the meditations you offer on your website and what your goals are with these meditations.

Karen: One of the tools I use to help me stay in a positive mind set is meditation. Meditation calms me and clears my mind, so I can get past the clutter and move to the truth of the situation. The meditations on my website are tools to help re-center and refocus to a good place. Life will toss all kinds of obstacles at you. The meditations are tools to help move through the obstacles. They are imaginative journeys using the tools I teach. The Transforming Forest is a companion meditation to the book. We all have times and situations where it is hard to move past a negative perspective. This meditation helps to get back on track. It involves letting go of the situation you are holding on to and seeing it from a new positive perspective. The other meditations I offer correspond with the topic of the Yoga Remembering Stories. For example, The Affirmation Adventure is a magical journey using affirmations, another tool in my toolbox, to move to a positive state.

Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to almost 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE. You can also follow Tawdra on twitter and her blog, Publishing Quest


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