Jan 18, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Two Books That Offer Healthy Guidelines for the Food We Eat

Many of us have made the decision this year to take control of the food we put into our bodies and to maintain healthier eating habits. For me personally, I began this journey two years ago after realizing that for the first time in my life, I needed to go on a diet. But it wasn't a diet I needed. It was a lifestyle change that I could adapt and continue to practice for the rest of my life. I began reading the nutrition labels on the food I was buying and learning what to stay away from. There's a lot of information in those labels if only you take the time to understand what they mean. Now I look at food a lot differently than I used to and I don't buy food just because it tastes good. Even though it may taste good, that doesn't necessarily mean its good for you. For two years now I've completely cut out processed foods from my diet and I can tell a significant change in my body. Most of the food I eat I prepare fresh at home from ingredients I choose. I rarely eat fast-food and when I occasionally slide, I immediately regret it because of how it makes me feel and then I vow never to to it again.

For today's post I wanted to share two books that I've come across that have helped me tremendously in my quest for eating healthy. The first book, HEALTHY FOOD GUIDE,  is a self-published ebook by Ceps Weston and is available on Kindle (for 2.99). Though not written perfectly, the information provided in the book allowed me to overlook the sub-par writing. (In my opinion) I read this book in a day and though its not an in depth, technical book, it is very helpful in identifying ingredients you should definitely stay away from and why.  This book would be great for those just starting to realize that they want to have more knowledge about what they are putting into their bodies.

The second book I want to mention is a much more in depth look at food in general and the benefits of eating real food, not food that the 'industry' tells us is healthy and good for us. This book came out in 2008 and was featured on many of the morning news shows for its bold statements about how the food industry manipulating the public into thinking they're providing us with healthy alternatives. Its a very interesting book written by Nina Planck, who is a renowned food expert who grew up on a farm in Virginia eating 'real' food and selling it at farm stands. Her knowledge of food is very broad and is not at all related to food trends, just simple whole foods.  This book is aptly titled REAL FOOD: What To Eat and Why. In it, Ms. Planck shares her wealth of knowledge about foods that have been around for thousands of years and the benefits of them. For anyone looking to learn about food and maintaining a healthier lifestyle I highly recommend this book.  I promise you won't look at food the same way again.

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope this post was helpful to you in some way. for more great cooking posts, please stop by Beth Fish Reads and check out all the other contributors for this weekly event. 

Jan 15, 2014

Audio Review: The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

THE COMFORT OF LIES is the story of three very different women who most likely would never have met had it not been for one man.  Five years ago Juliette's professor husband, Nathan, had a year long affair with Tia, one of his students. The affair ended abruptly when Tia announced she was pregnant. Tia, young and naive, did not expect Nathan's response of simply walking away from the relationship and never looking back. Caroline and her husband, Peter, adopted their daughter, Savannah, loved her as their own, yet they each had different ideas about family and the roles each should play in raising their daughter.

Five years after giving her baby up for adoption, Tia decided that Nathan should know he has a daughter, so she sent a picture that the adopted mother had sent to her along with a letter. But Nathan's wife intercepted the envelope and was shocked to learn the news of a child from his affair. The actions that Juliet takes after learning this information changes all of their lives forever. Even young Savannah has to learn some hard truths about her parentage.  

My Thoughts:

Having read and loved Meyers' first novel, THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS, I was very excited to read this second book. There are so many jagged edges in the storyline that kept my emotions tense. I kept putting myself into the shoes of each of these women and would try to imagine how I would feel if it were happening to me. It would be terrible to discover that your husband had a year long affair, but then to find out five years later that the affair resulted in a child would be devastating, to say the least. If I had an adopted child, I would be terrified if I thought the biological parents wanted her back. And for Tia, the pain of having to give up a baby that you conceived out of love, would be absolutely heartbreaking.

I felt connected to each of the characters, however, Caroline was my most difficult. Though she agreed to adopt a child with her husband, she would often put her job first, which, even as a non-parent, I couldn't possibly relate to. There would be no job that would rival my daughter, adopted or not. But I suppose that's part of what made this story so believable. The characters and their flaws were realistic. Another interesting thing about these complex characters is that each represents a different class of society.

Though I can't say I loved this book as much as I loved THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS, I still enjoyed it very much. I think it would be a terrific book club selection giving all of the different points of view the story offers. I'm sure it would prompt a lively discussion.

I chose to listen to this book on audio and I'm happy with that choice. I enjoyed Amy McFadden's performance and felt she did a great job distinguishing between the varying  characters. If you're looking for a engaging audio for your commute, you won't be disappointed with THE COMFORT OF LIES.

THE COMFORT OF LIES (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Randy Susan Meyer
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: February 2013
Length: 10 hrs 47 mins
Reccomend? Yes

Jan 6, 2014

Review: There's More to Life Than This by Theresa Caputo (Unabridged Audio Version)

I have really looked forward to posting this review, although it took me longer to put all my thoughts down. First, let me give you the complete title since it wouldn't all fit in the Title block: THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS: Healing Messages, Remarkable Stories, and Insight about the Other Side from the Long Island Medium. Whew! Now that's one heck of a title!

I have been a fan of The Long Island Medium for several years now, though at first I was a bit of a skeptic. It didn't take me long, however, to become a believer in Theresa Caputo's amazing gift. As a person trying to focus more on the positive things in life, I was more open to Theresa's experiences partly because she also focuses on the positive affects her gift can bring and she doesn't even entertain any of the negative spirits that may try to come through. Her genuine personality and big heart are more reasons I felt drawn to her. I realize that accepting the experiences of  mediumship is not for everyone but if you have an open mind you may just surprise yourself, as I did.

Here are some highlights of the book that stood out to me:

  • She begins the book by explaining how she became aware at a very young age that she had abilities that most people don't have. She had extreme phobias that she didn't understand until she overcame her fears and was able to open up herself to the possibility that she had a gift. It took her some time to get to that point and she did it with the love and support of her (very large) Italian family.
  • Theresa explains how she began learning and accepting the help from what she later learned were angels, guides and souls that were trying to communicate with her. 
  • Throughout the book, she brings up some of the different experiences she's had while giving readings to people who have reached out to her. Her only hope is to be able to give those people some peace of mind. I love hearing these stories. 
  • She talks about faith and fear. As a practicing Catholic, Theresa is a very spiritual person, and she explains why she feels she doesn't need to chose between her gift and her religion. She doesn't preach this point, she simply explains where her gift fits in with her faith.  Personally, I was always fearful of death and at one time even dwelled on it to the point that it started negatively affecting my life. Now that I am a more spiritual person, I no longer have those fears and I became more open to the possibilty of connecting with the other side. Later in the book, Theresa explains though, that sometimes what she learns from Spirit conflicts with her Catholic upbringing. She also touches on meditation and prayer and how it aids in her gift.
  • One of my favorite parts of the book was when Theresa briefly wrote about pets that have passed on coming through to her. As a lover of all animals, this made my heart smile because it shows that pets have souls too. She did say that because animals have simpler brains, they are much easier for her to receive messages from. 
  • The most intriguing part of the book, for me, was when she wrote about Regression and past life experiences. She doesn't spend a lot of time on this subject but it was very interesting to me.  
  • My favorite chapter of all was Chapter 8 when she wrote about positive attitudes. Because I am trying to have more positivity in my life, I really enjoyed this section. 
Well, those are some of the highlights from the book that stood out for me. This is not a preachy, over-the-top book that tries to change the way you think about Spirit, nor does she try to push her ability on anyone. She knows many people don't believe in her gift, and that is perfectly fine with her. She is simply sharing her experiences and hoping to bring peace and closure to the people who reach out to her who have lost loved ones and are unable to move on from the grief.

Soon after the book came out, I bought two copies, one in print for my friend, and the audio version for myself.  For me, the audio version was more convenient, but I will say, in all honesty, that Theresa is not the best narrator. That said, I am still happy with my decision to listen to this most interesting book.

THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Theresa Caputo
Narrated by: Theresa Caputo
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published: October 2013
Length: 7 hrs 40 mins
Recommend: Most definitely!

Jan 5, 2014

The Sunday Salon: New Year, New Goals

Now that the holidays are over, I'm anxious to get started on this new year of ours. I'm being optimistic that 2014 is going to be a positive year for me. Of course, I hope for this each year, but, as you know, life has a way of making minced meat out of our plans. I thought I would use this post to outline some of the changes I've decided to implement in my life, both book related and not. 

The most important thing I want to have in my life this year is the positivity and I've made the decision to eliminate sources of negativity that can create so much upheaval and unhappiness. I may not be able to completely remove the source from my life, but I can control how I react to it. Last year had a lot of difficulty related to this and I don't want this for 2014. 

One of the ways I plan to keep positive is to get back to a daily devotional. One of the ways I plan to do this is to do something I intended to do about 5 years ago. I will be reading The One Year Bible. This is a great way to break down the Bible, that can be very confusing and enable you to read it in one year's time. I will also be spending more time praying and having quiet time for myself just to sit and reflect. I have all the time in the world, so this should not be a problem for me at all. Frankly, I'm looking forward to this new plan. I think we all need to spend some time with ourselves to 'check in' and make sure we are on the best path for ourselves. 

The second change I've made for this new year is to resign from the She Reads Book Club. I began my involvement with them in January of 2013 and it has been a worthy experience. However, as my eye disease progressed last year, I found myself pushing aside books I own and really want to read.to make room for the book club picks. Don't get me wrong, most of them were terrific books that I'm glad I read but others...not so much. I would much rather spend the time I have left ro read real books with the ones I choose to read. Thanks to the Kindle Daily Deals, I have acquired some really great reads that I am dying to start reading! I will continue to follow all the great bloggers in the She Reads network and promote those authors as well. 

I read 40 books last year, even though I haven't posted two of the reviews yet. i am very happy with that number, which is up from 30-something the previous year. I listened to more audio books in 2013 and found I enjoy them more and more. I plan to listen to at least twelve this year. I get so much housework done while listening, so that's a perk! 

Since I will be able to focus on books in my TBR pile this year, I'm really looking forward to reading more crime fiction.  I want to continue with the Louise Penny crime series and I also want to read Karin Slaughter's  Will Trent Series. There's also a few new-to-me authors I want to read. Wiley Cash is at the top of the list, as is Wally Lamb. A few of the books at the top of my TBR pile are AND THE MOUTAINS ECHOED, THE GOLDFINCH. and LOST LAKE by Sarah Addison Allen. I could go on and on, as I'm sure you know. There are so many wonderful books out there and I wish I could just sit and do nothing but read all the time, but we all know that isn't possible  

Along with my reading and spiritual goals, I'm also taking control of my body this year by eating healthy foods and avoiding the quick fixes that push all those diet ads we see all teh time. I just downloaded the Kindle version of Nina Planck's REAL FOOD and I hope to learn a lot from it. It promises to be very interesting. Two years ago, I lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers by changing my eating habits and learning about food. But in the last year, I've put on a lot of that weight. I took it off before and I will be doing it again this year. I'll be using a few different techniques and I'll be sharing them here on the blog on Saturdays, like I did when I was on WW. I hope you'll follow my progress and if I can encourage anyone else to get healthy by eating right, all the better! 

So there it is. Those are the goals I've set for myself this year. I'm really looking forward to a fresh start and good things. If you'd like to see the list of books I read in 2013, just click the tab at the top of this page. Click on any title to ready my thoughts. Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy and productive new year!