Positive, powerful pick-me-up: My thoughts on 'I've Been Thinking...' by Maria Shriver

Positive, powerful pick-me-up: My thoughts on 'I've Been Thinking...' by Maria Shriver

I've long been a fan of—and subscriber to—Maria Shriver's The Sunday Paper. In her weekly e-newsletter, Shriver shares empowering, encouraging, inspirational thoughts and information on people making a positive difference in our culture, our world.

Shriver opens each newsletter with an engaging personal message  titled "I've been thinking...," on a range of topics relevant to world events and concerns. She follows up with powerful articles and tidbits by and about various "Architects of Change," as she calls the passionate "changemakers moving humanity forward." 

The Sunday Paper never fails to open my eyes and heart to the positive possibilities in our world today despite the doom, gloom, negativity, and nastiness proliferating online and off.

So when I was offered the opportunity to review I've Been Thinking... Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life, Shriver's most recent book, inspired by the messages she writes and shares in The Sunday Paper, I naturally responded, "Heck, yeah!"

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Peonies from CommercialSilk.com (review)

Peonies from CommercialSilk.com (review)

Based on the lovely, amazing, productive, and responsible women my daughters have become, I'd have to say I'm pretty good at growing girls.*

Based on the colorless condition of my yard year 'round, though, I'd have to admit I'm no good at all when it comes to growing gardens or flowery sorts of stuff.

Which stinks because I'd like to be one of those people who display colorful cut flowers throughout my home. Sure, I could regularly purchase bouquets from the florist, plop them in a vase, and add water, but that gets expensive. And the flowers die — even for folks who have a natural knack with flowers.

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Great games for GRAND kids: More from Goliath Games and Pressman Toy

Great games for GRAND kids: More from Goliath Games and Pressman Toy

Whether for birthdays, holidays, or any ol' days of ordinary sorts, games make great gifts for grandkids. Or for grandparents to keep on hand for playing with visiting kiddos.

Goliath Games and Pressman Toy — makers of the games featured in my rundown of games for holiday giving — recently sent me free for review two more options for getting the good times rolling with your favorite grands.

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Utter Nonsense: Family Edition a hilarious game for holiday gifting

Utter Nonsense: Family Edition a hilarious game for holiday gifting

My husband has a thing about accents. He's long goofed off with our girls by speaking in (egregiously incorrect) accents, from Spanish to French to Australian and so forth. He gets a ridiculous kick out of hearing Siri speak in different languages, and has his own Siri set to the Australian male voice.

So when I mentioned I'd been offered Utter nonsense! The Hilarious Accent Game free for review, he was all over that. "Oh, you gotta get it!" he announced (in what I think may have been an Australian accent with a Spanish lilt).

I requested the game, and as soon as it arrived I saw its potential for wacky fun with my loved ones.

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Happy eyes for grandmothers and others: The new Signature Collection from Readers.com

Happy eyes for grandmothers and others: The new Signature Collection from Readers.com

Enter nearly any room in my house and you'll likely see a pair of reading glasses somewhere. Kitchen? Check. Bedroom? Check. In the study where I work? Of course. In the bathroom where even my magnifying mirror needs a bit of a boost? Yep.

I have lots of reading glasses because I need them for lots of reasons. I go through them so often — scratching, losing, or tiring of the style — that I buy only inexpensive ones, typically those that come in batches of four or more for a relatively low price.

So when Readers.com invited me to try out their new Signature Collection of handmade yet a smidgen higher priced readers free for review, it didn't take much

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Enter to win sweet prizes! Sweet’N Low® Spread Sweet Holiday Cheer sweepstakes

Enter to win sweet prizes! Sweet’N Low® Spread Sweet Holiday Cheer sweepstakes

Sharing sweets and treats with loved ones tops my list of ways to spread holiday cheer. My traditional Spritz Cookies, loaves of Cranberry Pumpkin Bread, and stockings filled with Confetti Popcorn are the goodies I most often give.

Sweet'N Low®, America's favorite pink zero-calorie sweetener, has gotten into the giving game this year, launching a national sweepstakes to spread holiday cheer. Fans of the brand can enter for the chance to win sweet prizes not only for themselves, but for a friend of their choice, too.

The makers of Sweet'N Low® have shared with me a gift card in exchange for sharing with you the details on their sweet seasonal sweepstakes. Check it out:

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Brief book review: All Fish Faces by Tam Warner Minton

Fish fans of all ages will surely be delighted to find this colorful collection under their Christmas tree this holiday season. Or in their hands during any season.

All Fish Faces brief review 2.jpg

You'll find ALL FISH FACES by Tam Warner Minton (affiliate link) on Amazon plus other places great books are sold.

Disclosure: I received this book free for review; opinions are my own.

100 Classic Gluten-Free Comfort Food Recipes by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt (review)

100 Classic Gluten-Free Comfort Food Recipes by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt (review)

I've always been one to express my love to friends and family with food (among other things). Homemade cookies regularly in the cookie jar. Special treats for special folks on special days. Enjoying food crafts and activities with kids. Festive family occasions focus primarily on food.

Enter a grandchild with food allergies. Gluten issues, in particular. James, my bonus grandson courtesy his dad Patrick marrying my daughter Brianna, can't eat the majority of my long-time specialty goodies and holiday favorites. Figuring out how to express food-love to that kiddo has been a challenge. For the most part, food isn't what James and I share.

That's all about to change, courtesy 100 Classic Gluten-Free Comfort Food Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, which I recently received from publisher Robert Rose free for review. The 224-page cookbook takes the mystery out of making savory and sweet dishes without gluten! A lifesaver for this grandma and her gluten-free grandson.

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