WaAr-ior reviews roll in

The Literary LizardTwo of my books have been getting reviews lately from a great group of readers known as WaAr. They are similar to a book group in that they have book picks each month that they all read, discuss and share. This group of WaAr-iors also know how much an honest review means to an author—and how hard they are to come by.

I’ve been blessed this month to have Karmic Circle and The Literary Lizardillustrated by Robin Wiesnethas two of their books this month and the reviews have been wonderful. I adore this group of dedicated readers and karmiccircle_frontcover3 (1)give them the highest praise for the help they provide authors with getting feedback and sharing our work.

The WaAr group is always looking for new readers to join them. You can find Wanda’s amazing Amazon reviewers on Facebook here (give these guys a like!) or ask for an invite to the group here. As always, thank you WaAr!!!

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Monkeys, Nikes and News

Monkey on Horse BowlerHappy Lunar New Year! 2016 is the Chinese Year of the Monkey with fire as the element. I happen to be a monkey myself, born in 1968, with earth as my element. Monkeys unite—it will be Planet of the Apes all year long!

I like the idea of celebrating lunar new year. By now I have usually faltered on my new year resolutions and this year is no different. I promised myself that I would slow down in 2016 and smell the roses more—but I didn’t realize there were so many roses! Lunar new year is a second chance to try again.

One thing that keeps me sane and focussed is my morning run. Recently I started having issue with knee and ankle pain. My shins started being sensitive as well so I started fearing shim splints.

Happily, I flipped my running shoes over one morning to check the tread to find it worn away. I replaced my shoes and am back on the road, and the miles, happily.

Other highlights— The Panhandle Focus is going well and I am preparing the February 15 issue this next week. We have some great photos and stories coming up. Reviews for The Literary Lizard and Karmic Circle have been piling up. We are finishing up the final filming of Pirantulas! tomorrow and the footage will be sent off to production.

I’ve been busy the past month setting up some new things that I’ll be discussing soon. In the meantime, a new Lunar New Year goal might be to get back to my daily blogging schedule.

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Meet Snakespeare—is he Lizard’s friend or foe?

Snakespeare is coming to life...!

Snakespeare is coming to life…!

Today is a good day. Besides being the first day of a shiny new month, it’s the day when the next adventure from our favorite bookworm…er…lizard… takes shape.

Illustrator Robin Wiesneth has already been hard at work breathing life into a new character in the series—a python named Snakespeare.

You can read how Robin visualizes and creates these characters visually on her blog at aBrushWithHumor.com.

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Computer Tech 2016 was AMAZING

I look a little shocked here—I didn’t expect to be so busy!

Thank you to Carl Lofstrom and everyone that worked so hard to make Computer Tech 2016 a success.

I was there representing the Panhandle Focus and the response to our paper was amazing. By noon almost all our business cards were taken and I had one handout left.

A surprise challenge for me was when I was asked to step in for an instructor that couldn’t make it. Within an hour I was up teaching a full class about Facebook with no prep and learning a valuable lesson myself—I like teaching classes.

Ryan Smith explains how to find the Panhandle Focus to one of our many visitors.

Panhandle Focus writer Rachel Reese who covered Computer Tech 2016 in our January issue was also at the expo along with Mr. Smith who manages the business and advertising side of things. The whole experience was exhilarating, exhausting and wonderful. I can’t wait until next year.

To find out more about Computer Tech 2016 visit them online or read page 4 in our January 2016 issue of the Panhandle Focus.

Follow this link to download the Panhandle Focus handout


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Meet us at Computer Tech ’16

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.15.45 PMTomorrow I will be at Northwest Florida State College along with other Panhandle Focus team members at Computer Tech 2016 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to meet and greet.

Rachel Reese covered the upcoming event in an excellent story  in the last issue on page four.

Find all the issues of the Panhandle Focus at PanhandleFocus.com or, even better, stop by and say hi tomorrow. More info in Computer Tech 2016, including the schedule,  can be found here. 


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Big money in pinching thighs…

20160128_214409How many meals can you get from two chickens? I’m about to find out.

At Cafe Bienville, we buy high quality whole chickens, cook them and then handpick the meat to use in sandwiches and salads. The result is a delicious and cost effective. I can pick a chicken pretty fast now. I’ve started wondering—why can’t I do that at home?

Usually for home I buy chicken breasts at $1.99 a pound and bake them in the oven. A family size pack makes a meal in our house with a little left over for someone’s salad or late night snack.

This time I bought two chickens at .99 a pound and boiled them in a stockpot. I sautéed the livers in olive oil with garlic as a light dinner for myself. When the chickens were done I picked the meat off the bones in about 15 minutes per chicken.

In the end my two chickens netted me two containers of juicy, shredded meat ready for sandwiches and salads, a large pot of chicken noodle soup and a lot of broth to use when I make brown rice this week. The dogs even got all the skin which is good for their coats.

With a little work I am paying a lot less for a lot more with better quality. That’s worth pinching a few thighs.

Posted in My Consumerverse | 1 Comment

What I’ve Read Lately

OutliersI just finished Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and thought it was excellent. His book studies the most successful of us from sport superstars to millionaire computer programers and statistically breaks down the reasons for their success.

The book was enlightening and encouraging. Hard work and an element of chance plays a part in each story, but Gladwell digs deep to get to the layers that make up each profile and find the true elements that contribute to success. Five stars!

EssentialismI also finished Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown this last month. This book is one of the pivotal pieces of literature that I will recognize years from now as being a turning point in my life. Essentialism forced me to finally realize that I can try to do everything but I will never be able to do everything well.

Since reading McKeown’s book I’ve been evaluating my life and choosing the parts that I find essential. What things make me happy and fulfilled? Essentialism helped me identify these things and gives me the focus and drive to cut out the rest. Again, five stars!

Both excellent books, I’ve been able to enjoy listening to the audiobook versions by downloading the free OverDrive app on my phone. OverDrive allows me to log in to my local libraries selection of ebooks and audiobooks and enjoy them for free.

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Growing Kale

20160126_125412Lately I’ve been experimenting with Kale, one of the most nutrient dense foods available, and decided to try my hand at growing our own. It appears to be really easy to grow, survives the mild winters here in Florida and just keeps going for years.

I was recommended David’s Garden Seeds And Products as the best place to get seeds and I chose Toscano Heirloom Kale as my kale of choice. I planted the seeds in an old recycling bin that has been phased out of use and compost. Now I just have to wait and watch… and water.

Why do I want to try growing kale? I have been doing a lot of reading lately about the loss of nutrients in our fresh vegetables due to the soil being depleted of nutrients. Scientific American has a good, simple overview on the topic in this article published on April 27, 2011. An excerpt from that article states—

A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in theJournal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.

The problem is soil that has been over taxed by higher yield crops. The solution is to replenish the soil. From the same article—

The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

I’m no farmer, but I bet I can grow some kale. Watch and wait… and water.


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Date Day at the Bloodmobile

Mr. Smith donates his super blood…

Every Monday my husband and I try to go someplace fun together and today we picked the Bloodmobile. It might seem like a curious choice, but we got to spend time together doing something that will make a difference to others and ourselves.

In addition to the altruistic reasons to donate, there are plenty of health benefits for donors as well. From lowering the risk of stroke, cancer and cardiovascular disease, giving blood makes sense.

It even helps with getting slim—donors burn approximately 650 calories per one pint of donated blood, according to the University of California, San Diego. While an awesome side effect, this should not be thought of as a weight loss plan to replace healthy diet and exercise.

Doing a good deed has a warming effect :)

Turns out that Mr. Smith has amazing, healthy veins and blood and was able to donate double red cells. His donation could go to save 7 or 8 lives the technician told us. A regular donation can be shared to just a few people.

So maybe a date at the Bloodmobile is an odd choice but it makes sense when you consider that we are burning calories, lowering our risk of health problems and saving lives while spending time together. If that weren’t enough they gave us matching blankets as a thank you gift—perfect for a quiet evening of snuggling.

Read more about some of the reasons for giving blood here.



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Weightloss Q&A

Six MilesSince yesterday’s post my inboxes have exploded with messages asking me questions about how I dropped 30 pounds in 6 months.

Since a lot of the questions are similar, I can answer you faster by addressing them in one blog post. I’ll still try to answer individually, but for the moment this is faster.

Q: What do you eat besides 310 Meal Replacement Shakes?

A: A lot! I snack on raw almonds, raw peanuts and (as of this week) cocoa nibs all day long. When I want a salty snack, air popped popcorn drizzled in coconut oil and salt gets rid of that craving. I avoid sugar and processed grains and stick with lean meat, vegetables and fruit. A typical meal for me is chicken on mixed greens. I keep a packet of 310 Lemonade on me for when I want a quick, sweet drink when I’m out. When I feel like I need something extra I add a scoop of 310 Juice to my regular breakfast shake. I’m never starved and have lots of energy.

Q: How do you work at Cafe Bienville and not overeat?

A: I couldn’t do it at just any cafe. I’m lucky—where I work the food is natural, healthy and minimally processed. I can indulge in just about anything on the menu and be safe. I do try to keep the affogato, my new all time favorite indulgence, as a reward for my long runs. I love the food and atmosphere so much I ‘retired’ from my newspaper job so I could hang out in my favorite spot all the time.

Q: What other things have helped you?

A: Sleep has been a big one for me. I used to stay up until midnight or so every night and get up by 6 in the morning. I thought I could run fine on 4-5 hours of sleep. I kept hearing that sleep really helps your body metabolize and repair so I made it a goal to be in bed by 10 now. I see a dramatic difference. The weight drops off much easier and I have better workouts.

Q: Has running helped you lose more weight?

A: Surprisingly, not at all. When I started running last November I stopped dropping the pounds as my muscle increased. Through the holidays I didn’t mind and I gave myself a break as long as I didn’t gain anything back. That part was easy. Having the 310 shakes for breakfast each morning starts me off healthy and charged. They also offset any over indulgences I have later.

My journey isn’t done yet—I have about 20 pounds I’d like to lose—and now that the holidays are finished I’m ready to get back to shedding. The trick is balancing getting enough calories to maintain muscle but not so many that I maintain the extra pounds. I’ve dropped my long runs, which are up to 6 miles now, to once a week and just have a short 2.5 run every morning to keep that metabolism going.

I’m also going to start going back to 2 shakes a day again—my regular breakfast shake and replace dinner with a shake. I have no doubt that the last 20 pounds will soon be a memory.

Previous posts from my weight loss journey…

Posted in Working out | 1 Comment