Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: "Five High School Dialogues" by Ian Thomas Malone

Today I am sharing my review of "Five High School Dialogues" by Ian Thomas Malone. I think the book cover is a fun, attention-getting illustration with bright colors that perfectly matches the vibe of the stories within its pages.

This book is a 253 page journey across a wide spectrum of experiences known as the high school years. It is the third installment in his series, “The Dialogues”. The first two installments are "Five College Dialogues" and "Five More College Dialogues".

Within these five dialogues, I feel the author has done a wonderful job of bringing to life for the reader a wide spectrum of high school personality types and experiences. My perspective as the reader is as an adult reminiscing about my own high school years as I read the pages and I highly recommend this read for an age range of high school through adult readers for this reason. High school students in this generation will be able to relate to this book on a level that encompasses the feelings and experiences they encounter in this day and age, along with the technology and other advances they are familiar with. Adult readers will recognize the universal themes of youth which draws the reader to recall your own experience, as it very much did me. The "modern" technological advances referenced in the book of our social media age create a discussion point for the adult reader to say, "When I was in high school, we didn't have that.", words my own mother said to me at the time, and that brought a smile to my face.      

My favorite dialogue involves the high school rite of passage known as "group work" assignments, which invoked much laughter to me as I recalled some of the dreaded high school assignments involving relaying on others in your group to accomplish for what would be a team grade, which also did a great job showcased the wide spectrum of personalities encountered with high school youth.

About the author:

Ian Thomas Malone is an author and a yogi from Greenwich, CT. He is a graduate of Boston College, where he founded The Rock at Boston College. He is the grandson of noted Sherlockian scholar Colonel John Linsenmeyer. Ian has published thousands of articles on diverse subjects such as popular culture, baseball, and social commentary. His favorite things to post on social media are pictures of his golden retriever Georgie and his collection of stuffed animals. Ian believes firmly that “there’s more to life than books you know, but not much more,” a quote from his hero Morrissey. When he’s not reading, writing, or teaching yoga, he can probably be found in a pool playing water polo. He aspires to move to the Hundred Acre Wood someday, though he hopes it has wi-fi by then.

You can find out more about the book and a link for purchasing a copy here.

You can find out more about this author and his books by visiting his website .  
His novel "Courting Mrs. McCarthy" (Limitless Publishing) will be available June 9th from all major booksellers. 

I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids"

I am reviewing a book today that I now have in my resource library for the day when my husband and I become parents. 

"8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" is 208 pages in length and I feel it shares powerful tips for healthy parenting. I love that it is written to be geared toward busy adults and each tool the author shares is broken down into five short chapters that are 3 pages in length, so I like that they are quick and easy to read.

About "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids"

Although written with busy parents in mind, this book is a wonderful resource book for grandparents caring for grandchildren, aunts, uncles, teachers and all adults who have children in their lives. It shows you the nuts and bolts of developing a healthy relationship with a child and the words build an illustration of how we influence the young people in our lives. He shares and discusses 8 simple tools: talking, listening,  influencing, connecting, teaching, encouraging, correcting and leading. A big message I took away from this book was using the tool he shares in this book not only applied to the children in my life, but to my own adult life regarding other adults I interact with.

About the author: 

Dr. Todd Cartmell is a child psychologist who has been working with children, teens, parents, and families for the last 18 years, most of that in a group practice in Wheaton, IL. He has been married for 24 years to his wife, Lora, and they have two young adult sons who are currently attending college. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Wright State University at the Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. He has written five parenting books (faith based) and presented many parenting workshops at mom’s conferences (Hearts at Home, MOPS International), MOPS groups, churches, and schools. He recently developed a skill-building game for kids called The Flexible Thinking Game. In his free time, he enjoys doing anything with his wife, spending time with their boys whenever possible, reading, running, and playing jazz piano. His Christian faith is an important part of his life and thinking, and he is continually thankful for God’s grace.

You can find out more information about this book by going to the website here and from April 15-May 15, you can purchase the book with 50% Discount Code by entering the code GREATKIDS16. 


One of you will win a copy of "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" (ARV $12.99).

To enter, please leave a comment below to let me know you would like to win. Giveaway closes Sunday,  April 17 at 5:00 pm EST. Open to US and Canada residents only. 

If you are not able to leave a comment on this blog post, please e-mail me at with "Giveaway Entry" in the subject line and that will count as your entry.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Review: An "Over the Moon" musical program with Chanticleer

Chanticleer male chorus officially began around a dining table in San Francisco at the home of founding member Louis Botto in 1978. The name was a suggestion of founding member Charlie Erikson, who was in the midst of reading Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and  inspired by the name of the “clear singing” rooster in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale. It is a combination of the French words "chanter" , meaning “to sing” and "clair", which means “clear”.  

The dining table beginning would turned into singing in their home community of San Francisco to traveling to all 50 states and soon after, a tradition that continues today, of traveling the world to share their music. In 1983, Joseph Jennings joined the group and began a distinct legacy within the group, soon becoming Music Director and remaining in that capacity until 2008, along the way amassing a number of gospel and jazz arrangements and a long list of works commissioned by Chanticleer, with some still performed in the group's programs today. From the beginning, there was a vision for full-time, salaried employment for the choral group's members and that dream became a reality in 1991 for the 12-member, all-male a cappella chorus. Over the past 38 years, more than 100 men have sung in the ensemble, each leaving their own personal imprint in the history of this group.

Chanticleer is now a non-profit organization, governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees, administered by a professional staff with the full-time professional ensemble. The organization also encompasses an education program serving over 5,000 students every year in a sequence of programs supervised by a full-time Education Director and in 2010 was recognized with the "Chorus America Education and Outreach Award".

In 2000, Chanticleer began the new millenium with a new distinction: a GRAMMY® winning , with "Colors of Love" won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance (With or Without a Conductor.) . In 2003, two more GRAMMY® awards followed for "Lamentations and Praises". 

My first Chanticleer concert was in 1992. I was a high school sophomore in my home state of Oklahoma and my mother took me to the concert at the university in our hometown where she was an alumni of the music program. Eric Alatorre was a member of the ensemble at the time and remains a part of the group today. Whenever I go to a concert and see Eric after the show, this little piece of trivia always begins our conversation, before Eric's tradition of bringing out his cell phone to show me the newest picture of his family. 

Last Thursday evening, I attended what was my latest Chanticleer concert. This one, a presentation of their "Over the Moon" program, presented at the beautiful Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY. 

Chanticleer is comprised of sopranos Gerrod Pagenkopf, Kory Reid and Darita Seth; altos Cortez Mitchell, Alan Reinhardt and Adam Ward; tenors Michael Bresnahan, Brian Hinman and Blake Morgan; and bass and baritones Eric Alatorre, Matthew Knickman and Marques Jerrell Ruff. William Fred Scott is Music Director.

The program weaves back and forth between traditional and contemporary songs and features some notable solos, including Adam Ward's haunting melodic solo during "Mirrorball" a contemporary selection on the program by Elbow/Guy Garvey and arranged by Peter Eldridge. A pure delight in the middle of the program are back-to-back performances of two of the most recognizable "moon" songs: Henry Mancini's "Moon River", arranged by Jace Wittig, and Bart Howard's "Fly Me to the Moon", arranged by Evan Price. 
A highlight of "Over the Moon" is appropriately presented at the conclusion of the program, their stunning version of the hymn, "There is a Balm in Gilead", featuring a spirit-filled, rafter-raising solo by Marques Jerrell Ruff. The performance touched me to the core of my soul. 

In 1992, their primary method of communicating was their mailing list for actual "snail mail", which my late mother and I were on and would receive a Chanticleer newsletter highlighting their travels and their upcoming concerts. Today, you can easily and readily find them across social media on their websiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and even hear some of their performances on their YouTube channel. If you do visit their YouTube channel, I must share my recommendations for  you listen to one of my all-time favorite Chanticleer performances, "Shenandoah", "Creole Love Song", along with "Cells Planets", which has the ability of making me incredibly happy while moving me to tears.

Their concerts, their recordings come with my highest recommendation.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: "Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV" for Children

Today I am reviewing a children's Bible that I am very excited as an aunt to share with my young nieces and nephews along with other beloved children in my life, to show them how much Jesus loves them through a special version of His Word, written especially for them. 

The "Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV" is an ideal children's Bible for ages 6 to 10, but I feel it shares a powerful message to reach readers both young and old. It features the New International Readers Version translation, NIrV, which is the steppingstone to introduce readers to the New International Version, NIV. 

I was immediately drawn to the glorious bright and fun hardcover of the book, covered in eye-catching foil and sparkles. I also like the fact it has a sturdy quality for young hands. Its 1,152 pages are filled with the Word interwoven with themes of underwater fun and sparkling fish details.  

Here is the fun and colorful way the message of I Corinthians 13 is presented:

You can find out more information about this book by going to the website here .


One of you will win a copy of the "Under the Sea Holy Bible, NirV" for children (ARV $24.99).

To enter, please leave a comment below to let me know you if there is a child you would like to share this book with. Giveaway ends Thursday, April 7 at 5:00 pm EST and is open to US and Canada residents only. 

If you are not able to leave a comment on this blog post, please e-mail me at with "Giveaway Entry" in the subject line and that will count as your entry.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Homemade Spring Goodness: "Zesty Orange Cardamom Marmalade"

  1. This Easter, I made this zesty orange cardamom marmalade for friends, neighbors and loved ones, pairing the citrus flavor of orange with the spicy flavor of cardamom. I think it makes a wonderful edible gift. I enjoy it spread on toast, a roll and paired with goat cheese on a toasted English muffin. It also makes a delightful cake filling for an upcoming recipe you will find here this spring and you will also see this flavor combination returning over the next few months. 
  2. "Zesty Orange Cardamom Marmalade"
  3. Makes 6 (1/2-pint) jars
  4. 1 1/3 lb. oranges
  5. 1/3 lb. lemons
  6. 3 1/3 cups water
  7. 12 green cardamom seeds
  8. 4 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
  9. Prepare the fruit 12 to 24 hours before you plan to cook and preserve the marmalade. Wash and pat dry all the fruit. Trim and discard the stem ends. Cut the oranges and lemons into quarters and poke out all the seeds with the tip of a paring knife. Reserve the seeds in a small covered container. Using a chef's knife, cut all the citrus, including the rinds, into 1/16-inch-thick slices. Put the sliced fruit in a large pot, including any juices left on the cutting board. Add 3 1/3 cups of water. Gently press down on the fruit to make sure it is submerged. Cover the pot and set aside at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. This process softens the rinds and releases pectin for the gelling process. 
  10. The next day, bring the pot of sliced fruit and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils steadily without splattering, and cook for 30 minutes. Wrap the crushed cardamom pods and the reserved lemon and orange seeds in a cheesecloth bag and tie securely with twine.
  11. While the fruit is cooking, prepare the preserving jars by sterilizing the jars and lids.
  12. Add sugar to the fruit mixture and stir until dissolved. Add cheesecloth bag containing cardamom and seeds. Continue to cook marmalade at a steady boil 30-40 minutes, until it reaches the gel stage or reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove cheesecloth bag from the marmalade, pressing any liquids back into the pan. Remove marmalade from heat. Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the marmalade into hot, sterilized jars, filling one jar at a time and leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by running a long wooden utensil, such as a chopstick or wooden skewer, between the jar and the marmalade. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to the manufacturer’s directions. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes, and then lift the canning rack and, using a canning jar lifter, transfer the jars to a towel-lined, sturdy rimmed baking sheet and let them rest. Check the seals and wipe the jars. Makes 6 (1/2-pint) jars. Add the "Made on" date to label or jar lid. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Once opened, keep refrigerated for up to 6 months.

Friday, March 18, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Leftovers: Cheesy Corned Beef Quiche

Are you looking for a way to change up your leftover St. Patrick's Day corned beef? I make an easy quiche recipe that makes use of several traditional St. Patrick's Day meal leftovers such as corned beef, cabbage and potatoes with a cheesy finish made into a tasty quiche using a refrigerated pie crust to shave even more time off meal preparation. Any kind of leftover potatoes will do good for this recipe. This recipe can be eaten immediately and does not have to be refrigerated overnight. It is great for lunch, brunch or a fun spin on dinner. It tastes great straight from the oven to the dinner table.

"Cheesy Corned Beef Quiche"

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust 

4 eggs

1 egg white

1 cup corned beef, cooked and chopped

                                 1/2 cup cabbage, cooked and chopped

   1/2 cup potatoes, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I use Kraft Shredded Three Cheese Mix of Monterey Jack, Colby and Cheddar Cheeses)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake pie crust according to package directions. Line rim of crust with aluminum foil to avoid burnt crust edges. Remove baked pie crust from oven and place on cooling rack. In large bowl, whisk eggs until well beaten. Stir in corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Add cheese. Mix enough to combine. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake 40-45 minutes or until quiche is golden brown. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ready for St. Patrick's Day and "Angela's Irish Soda Bread"

Here is a favorite tradition for the St. Patrick's Day holiday in our home. 

Irish Soda Bread is Ireland's version of a classic quick bread. Baking soda was introduced to the country in the 1840s and was used as a leavening agent in this bread made from staple ingredients. A tradition in the preparation of this bread, carried on by many to this day, including me, is to cut a cross shape into the dough with a knife before baking the bread to ward off the devil and protect the household. Many families have treasured recipes abounding with favorite variations of this beloved bread, including my Grandma Cleva's recipe. She loved buttermilk in her soda bread and I carry on her buttermilk tradition in my own recipe.

In the United States, this bread has come to be known by many as a dessert bread, but in Ireland, as with many traditional Irish families in the US, it is to this day enjoyed served with the main course meal rather than as a dessert bread. My recipe includes raisins, a favorite ingredient addition of mine for pairing with this bread's tangy flavor and tender texture topped with a hard crust.

"Easy Irish Soda Bread"

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
2 cups raisins
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and dusting of flour. In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, margarine and raisins. Add egg and 1 cup of buttermilk. Stir until mixture is combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round shape and place on baking sheet. In small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk. Brush buttermilk mixture over bread. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross shape or an 'X' into the top of the loaf. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire cooling rack. Enjoy!