Monthly Archives: October 2014

Clues For Real Life: The Classic Wit and Wisdom of Nancy Drew

Clues for Real Life: The Classic Wit and Wisdom of Nancy Drew

I was a big Nancy Drew fan as a kid, so when I saw this on Amazon a few years ago, I really wanted to read it! I’m glad I got it. This is a really clever and fun book that was a nice reminder of the books I loved so much. There really is advice in this book, and some of it can apply to real life, but a lot of the advice is witty comments from Nancy Drew books–things that might not apply to your life if you aren’t pursuing crooks. 🙂 They are really fun taken out of context! This book has 176 glossy pages with clever quotes, illustrations from the books, trivia and games, recipes, and more. There’s even a comparison of the original 1930’s versions of the books to the updated 1950’s versions that were much tamer. This book includes a great collection of information for Nancy Drew fans and it’s easy to read because it has so much variety.

Some examples of advice include:
“An old sack tied over your head by a criminal is not a very fashion-forward accessory.” (page 134) Indeed! Then there’s “If someone’s trying to buy a house and it suddenly becomes haunted, it’s probably not a coincidence.” (page 26.) But some of the advice is more serious: “You know he’s the guy for you when he’s a tried and true friend.” (page 81.) Awww!

The chapter titles are:

1. Hidden Secrets: The Evolution of Nancy Drew
2. Career Clues: Being Your Best on the Job
3. Friendship Files: Lessons Learned From Bess and George
4. Mysterious Men: Solving Your Dating Dilemmas
5. Everyday Villains: Dealing with Difficult People
6. The Traveling Suitcase: Around the World With Nancy
7. The Style Sleuth: Notes on Nancy’s Fashions
8. Recipe for Adventure: In the Kitchen with Nancy
9. Search for Fun: Test Your Puzzle-Solving Skills

I wouldn’t consider this a true self-help book, but it is a witty collection of quotes and some real-life advice. I’d recommend it to anyone who loved Nancy Drew as a kid. The books is good for kids and adults alike, and it will bring back fun memories for you.

Making Money Online with Inbox Dollars

So I’ve posted a couple times about using Inbox Dollars as a way to bring in a bit of extra money. I’m still doing it and I’m still pleased! I’m now up to about $70 just from this one site in just over a month. Plus, I’m a gold member now because I’ve cashed in my first payment. After you become a gold member, you get some extra perks and some of the tasks on the site pay a little more. Again, I’m not getting rich, but considering I’m doing random surveys and some offers at my kitchen table while I snack or eat dinner, I’m more than happy to get paid a few dollars a day!

On this site, you have to reach $30 to request a check. They charge you a $3 fee to send the check, but if  you wait until you hit $40, (which I did,) the fee is waived. So how can you get to that first $40? Well, I looked through the offers page and found over $20 you can earn just for signing up for newsletters or other survey sites. Not bad! Plus, you get $5 to join. If you decide to sign up for Inbox Dollars, I recommend going through their site to sign up for the Nielsen Voice offer which pays $5. I’ve received over $15 from Neilsen separately, (in addition to the Inbox Dollars reward!) just for participating in their program. So, just for joining Inbox Dollars and accepting their Neilsen offer, you’ve got $10, (plus you’ll get incentives from Neilsen!)

Once you’ve gone through and accepted or signed up for the various offers, you can still take daily surveys. For every survey you take, you get to spin their game wheel to win a prize. The other day, I won a $5 bonus!Just for spinning a virtual wheel! I frequently get 5-25 cent bonuses. Surveys usually pay 25-50 cents, but they are short and easy. Sometimes, they pay more. A few days ago, I took a survey that paid nearly $4. When you consider all the options for offers, surveys, bonuses and more, the pocket change you can make really adds up. You can also earn change for viewing their sponsored e-mails or using their search engine. In about five weeks, I’ve reached $40 and cashed out once, plus I’m currently 3/4 of the way to cashing out again. This is definitely a great site to look at for a few minutes a day to make a few dollars a day!

Recovering after a break up

It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Breakup Buddy by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt

Click here to purchase It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy

I think just the title of this book says so much. I’ve quoted it to many of my female friends who are missing their exes or going through on-and-off relationships. I remind them that if it was broken enough for them to break up, then they need to stay broken up. That simple! No need to repeat the misery! That said, I think this book is a must-have for someone who is having trouble accepting a break up. It’s straight-forward and it tells you exactly what the facts are. The advice is excellent and the tips for moving on are great. Plus, the book is fun and easy-to-read. The authors are married and they give their real-life examples of bad break-ups but also give you hope, because hey, they are married and cute and happy. Throughout the book, there are lots of little side-trips like examples, confessionals, lists, games, and more. If you aren’t someone who really enjoys reading, this book keeps moving to catch your attention.

The chapter titles are:
Part One–The Breakup
1. It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken
2. There Are No New Messages
3. He’s Not Hiding at the Bottom of That Pint of Ice Cream
4. If You Mention His Name One More Time…
5. Stop Calling In Sick
6. If He Was So Great, You’d Still Be Together
7. Fancy Meeting You Here!
8. What’s He Thinking?

Part Two–The Breakover
1. Don’t See Him or Talk to Him for Sixty Days
2. Get Yourself a Breakup Buddy
3. Get Rid of His Stuff and the Things That Remind You of Him
4. Get Your Ass In Motion Every Day
5. Don’t Wear Your Breakup Out Into the World
6. No Backsliding!
7. It Won’t Work Unless You Are Number One!
and a bonus chapter:
Dude, Get Off Her Lawn

This book is really a “tough love” type of book. Unlike our sometimes well-meaning friends, these authors do not try to give you hope that you can mend your break up. Instead, they get real with you and remind you that, if someone dumps you, they’ve already given up on you and it’s not worth your time to cling to them. Nor is it worth your dignity! They remind you not to sit around waiting and being miserable, not to give up your life and not to get stuck thinking about your ex all the time. The truth is, the person who dumps you probably isn’t thinking of you at all.

In the second part of the book, the chapters are listed as commandments–rules about what you should or shouldn’t do to move on in a healthy manner. This includes things such as cutting contact for at least sixty days which allows you to get past your most vulnerable moments and avoid making a fool of yourself. While this book is mostly aimed at women, there is a chapter for men who are stuck on an ex. I highly recommend this book if you are having a hard time with a breakup and I guarantee if you follow their advice, you will learn to respect yourself and come out the other side a happier person. It’s good advice! I read this book maybe six years ago when I was leaving a bad relationship, yet still wanted to keep trying with that ex. It was hard to accept the authors’ advice then, but I remembered it the next time I went through a breakup because I knew it had all proven true before. It definitely makes things easier as you learn these life lessons.

Easy Pilates workouts for beginners

Pilates For Every Body: Strengthen, Lengthen, and Tone–With This Complete 3-Week Body Makeover by Denise Austin

Let me start by saying I am not a person who enjoys sports or exercise at all! I was always the skinniest, weakest, wimpiest kid in gym class and dreaded every day that I had to run around trying not to get hit by a ball. But, I do want to be healthier and have a more toned figure. I want to make sure I still feel good and can move around when I get older, so I know I need to be active. About ten years ago, I saw this book at the grocery store, (which isn’t where I would normally look for books,) and it looked interesting, so I bought it. I have been very pleased with my purchase! I like the benefits of Pilates, and I saw real results. Other people noticed as well. I was so excited when someone came up to me and mentioned that I looked like I’d been working on my figure! I didn’t bulk up and my weight didn’t really change, but I felt stronger and looked less “dumpy” for lack of a better word. I’ve been a fan of Pilates and Denise Austin’s teaching style ever since.

Here are the chapter titles:
Part 1–What Pilates Can Do For You
The Power Behind Pilates
My Pilates Primer

Part 2–The Core Movements
Three Complete Programs, One Primary Emphasis
The Beginner Pilates Program
The Complete Pilates Program
The Warmup and Cooldown Program

Part 3–Pick Your Plan
Six Routines, 10 Minutes at a Time
My 10-Minute Hip, Thigh, and Butt Routine
My 5-Minute Resistance-Band Leg Workout
My 10-Minute Upper Body Routine
My 10-Minute Advanced Abdominal Routine
My 10-Minute Healthy Back Routine
My 5-Minute Balance Ball Routine

Part 4–Your 3-Week Total Body Makeover
A Progressive Plan for Complete Mind-Body Fitness
My Eating Plan
My Cardio Program
My Positive-Thinking Program
Your 3-Week Pilates Program
Your Personal 3-Week Makeover Diary

Austin begins by telling us the benefits of Pilates which definitely caught my attention–especially the part where she mentioned that proper posture could raise one’s height a little bit. 🙂 She offers several choices of full work-out routines and each one offers easy-to-understand pictures and directions. This was a must for me because I’m not well-coordinated or good at following exercise videos. But, Austin’s style is very simple to follow and most of the routines were not difficult. She also includes targeted routines that are short and simple as well as an overall plan to improve one’s eating habits and lose weight.

I didn’t actually use the entire program as the book is designed. I used the beginner Pilates program and then chose some of the more specialized plans. My favorites were the hip, thigh and butt routine and the upper body routine. I think those, combined with the core routine, helped me find a good balance. After doing my customized set of work-outs for several months, I definitely felt and looked better. I also felt stronger and more confident. Ten years later, I still consider this the best exercise option around and I use the individual exercises as references and starting points for a full exercise program. I think this is a great book for beginners or people who aren’t especially athletic.

Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle by Tina Swithin

Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle by Tina Swithin

Click here to purchase Divorcing a Narcissist – One Mom’s Battle

I wouldn’t say this is a true “self-help” book because the first part is mostly the story of the events leading up to a custody/visitation battle; however it is definitely a book to read if you are divorcing a narcissist or have fear for your children’s safety due to an abusive or neglectful narcissistic parent. This is a very popular book that accompanies a thriving blog and is considered a “must-read” by many people, (mostly women,) in support groups. I can’t promise you it is a completely positive book; however, I believe it ends on a hopeful note. As someone divorced from a narcissist, I found that my ex-husband was far more abusive to me than the author described her ex-husband was with her. So when I read the horrible incidents she had to deal with and the lies and games she experienced with her ex, I thought “oh great! If her less abusive spouse can get this crazy, what will my really abusive spouse do?!” Of course, for all I know, maybe toned it down for the sake of protecting her family or maybe just to get to the bigger picture. Personally, my experience was so bad, I was out in under two months. There was not one single good day after the wedding. It was all fear and confusion at the change in his personality. On the other hand, her ex-husband acted out far more obviously than mine. Although hers was just as talented at avoiding responsibilities while claiming to care, hers also committed obviously neglectful acts, whereas mine road rages and verbally attacks with some rough physical behavior. So, I found myself comparing the situations and wondering how my narcissistic ex will behave in the future.  If nothing else, this book gave me some clues, as well as some strong ideas for protecting my child and making the problem clear if needed.

The chapter titles are:
Tina’s Story
Seth’s Parents: Leonard and Cleo
The Narc De-Coder
Tina’s Tips
Acceptance and ForgivenessThe Family Court System Love Gratitude


Swithin describes being stalked, robbed and slandered as well as hearing first-hand accounts of abuse and neglect that her daughters related to her. She knew all these horrible things indicated that she was dealing with a dangerous person, yet the courts didn’t always comprehend the depth of the situation. That is what life is like with a narcissist. If you haven’t had to deal with one, then let me tell you it is absolutely NOTHING like a regular argument or divorce. Instead, it’s like having a hurricane rage through your life and tear it apart with no remorse. The author needed to communicate just how toxic this person was and how her daughters were not safe with unsupervised visitation. This took/takes a series of court dates–some with positive endings and some with negative outcomes. The story gives you faith that some things will go right and eventually the truth will come out, but it also keeps you alert to just how bad a battle with a narcissist can be. I would definitely recommend this book to someone dealing with this same situation, but it might also be of interest to anyone who wants to understand how personality disorders affect families or how they look in “real life.”

Lasting Lessons: Remember that there will be good days and bad days Stay organized, calm and focused Keep faith that the truth will prevail Don’t be afraid to use your resources–including people who know you and your character

A Girl Scout badge book for adults!

You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls–Dare to Dream, Learn Something New, Do Something Just For You! by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas

Click here to purchase You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls

I bought this book a few years ago and didn’t realize until today that the author was one of the people killed on Flight 93 on 9/11. I’m not sure why I didn’t catch that before, but it was such a heavy weight to just read that fact. Her family finished her dream after her death and the profits for the book go to a charitable foundation in her honor.

I actually bought this book on someone else’s recommendation. We were chatting and I mentioned that I had really loved being a girl-scout and I wished there was something like scouting for adults. I liked having a goal and a group to work on it with while we had fun. I also liked getting the colorful badges for my sash 🙂 That’s when my friend told me about this book. What a great idea! Okay, so you don’t get to go to scout meetings and have a snack, (although I’m sure you could arrange a few friends,) but it’s a book of ideas and ways to get started. It’s very inspiring and there are even colorful paper punch-out badges in the back!

There are 60 different badges, (plus some “extra credit” badges,) divided into categories:

Some of the badges you can earn include:
speak-up–public speaking, bead it–beading, be a renaissance girl–art appreciation, hang ten–surfing, pop the hood–car care and trace your roots–genealogy

Each badge includes about 8 pages that start with the benefits. Then there is a page from a mentor who is accomplished in that area, the steps to reach basic goals, and ideas for moving further–including a list of resources. Now, you won’t become an expert from this book alone. It simply gives you the starting steps. For some of the activities, you will need to branch out to other resources. However, it is a fun book with lots of inspiring ideas. It is basic enough to get you excited and push you in the right direction and it’s a good collection with a variety of topics. I think I’m going to try the “pop the hood” badge next because I’m clueless about cars!

A book with a basic self-help overview

Self Help Bible: A Healing Guide for Individuals with Common Problems – Self Help For Alcoholism To Anxiety by Mary-Ann Grady


This book is a good first-step towards basic self-help information and getting started in the right direction. It is short and action-packed. I read the e-Book and it was under 30 pages. Each chapter is about 2 pages of basic information about a broad psychological topic and there is some really good information in here–especially about lowering stress and avoiding unnecessary worry. Stress can literally make you sick and can lead to health problems, so you definitely need to find ways to lower it. Furthermore, worry is often a waste of time. Grady gives you ideas to reduce stress and ways to stop worrying. This is something I really want to take to heart because I’ve read some articles about the health dangers of stress and I’m under a lot of stress these days! So I appreciate this basic primer with some ideas I didn’t think of before. Some of the ideas might be common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of their importance.

The chapter titles are:
Introduction – Start by De-Stressing
Chapter 1- Overcoming Worry
Chapter 2- Three Big Differences between Introverts and Extroverts
Chapter 3- Fear – the Deadly Emotion
Chapter 4- How to Talk to People about Your Mental Illness
Chapter 5- Finding the Right Treatment Center for Addiction Recovery

Honestly, these don’t all match my needs, so I’d look at this as a general book and a stepping stone to getting specific information on your specific needs. However, I think the introduction and chapters 1 and 3 apply to everyone and the rest are good knowledge to have so that you can be aware of others around you and how they may be thinking, feeling or acting. It never hurts to better understand others 🙂

Lasting Lessons:

Don’t focus on things you can’t change and get stuck in a stressful pattern of negative thoughts
Set aside a time to focus on your worries and what you can do about them rather than letting them run your whole day. It won’t help!
Too much anxiety and stress can harm your health. Get it under control!

Signing for babies for better communication

Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk by Linda Acredolo, Ph.D. and Susan Goodwyn Ph.D.

Click here to purchase Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk, Third Edition

Goodwyn and Acredolo have a series of books–Baby Hearts, Baby Minds and Baby Signs. I think all of them are wonderful! Not only do the authors tell us what is good for children, but they explain the science and evidence behind it. Baby Signs is no exception. There are a number of baby signing programs and books out there, but I like this book the best for that reason. It is simple and easy to understand.

The chapter titles are:
Part I–Introducing the Baby Signs Program
Is the Baby Signs Program Good for Babies?
Benefits for You and Your Baby
As Easy as Waving Bye-Bye
Part II–The Baby Signs Program: Right for Every Family
The Baby Signs All-ASL Program
The Baby Signs “Baby-Friendly” Program
More About Baby Creations
A Program For Everyone

Part III–Start Signing with Your Baby!
When to Start Signing
Is Your Baby Ready for Signs
How to Get Started: Ten Tips for Success
Your Baby’s Progress
Differences Among Babies
Enrich Your Baby’s Signing Experience
Keeping Your Eye on the Right Prize

Part IV–Signs, Signs, and More Signs
Getting Dressed
At the Park
Animals and Pets
Choosing Signs to Teach

Part V–Off and Running with Signs
Here, There, and Everywhere
Feelings Discovered
First Metaphors
Sign Sentences
Potty Training with the Baby Signs Program
Off and Running–in Different Directions

Part VI–From Signs to Speech
A Dress Rehearsal for Talking
Why Your Baby Wants to Talk
The Transition to Speech
Gone but Not Forgotten
A Legacy of Love That Lasts a Lifetime

The evidence in favor of signing is really impressive! Kids who sign tend to communicate earlier and easier which helps prevent tantrums and confusing toddler behavior. They learn to communicate more clearly and they understand more words. Even when they learn to talk, they have a communication advantage as well as an emotional advantage because they have more options to express themselves and bond with their caregivers. The authors explain all the benefits and give inspiring examples. They also give you different options. Your baby doesn’t have to sign everything; every little bit helps. You can start with just his or her favorite items and move up. You can use traditional American Sign Language or the authors’ modified version for kids. Either way, the book includes two sets of common signs–ASL and their versions. The pictures are easy to follow and include all the most popular words that kids might need to use. In addition, this is a quick book to read. It is simple to read all the way through, or you could pick the signs you’d like to focus on. I think the research behind signing is really exciting and it’s definitely something I wanted to pursue for my children!

We also have the Signing Time DVD collection, (which isn’t related to this book.) My kids and I love it! The creators have a real gift for relating to children and making memorable songs. (They get stuck in my head frequently and my son loves to sing along!) I can’t say enough good things about signing in general, but I do think these are some of the best resources for your kids 🙂

Find Signing Time videos!

Making Money Online Update

So I’m still working with Inbox Dollars and I’m pleased!

I won’t pretend I’m getting rich or making a living, but I have made nearly $50 in three weeks doing very easy things with minimal time. That’s not bad! With this site, there are a variety of ways to make a few cents or dollars–including watching videos, playing games, making purchases through other sites, signing up for various offers and taking surveys. I have taken a lot of surveys, signed up for some freebie offers, played their Spin and Win game, used their search engine and more, but the surveys are the biggest part. I get e-mails throughout the day alerting me to make a few cents by verifying I read them. I can earn more if I accept the offers. I’m on a tight budget right now, so the few dollars I make each day on this site, (plus what I make on others,) is going right to bills. Every little bit helps!

There are a ton of survey sites out there and I simply don’t have time for all of them, so I’ve narrowed it down to the couple that pay off the most. The other one I really like is My Soap Box. I don’t get a bunch of surveys there, but the ones I do get have a better pay rate than other sites. This site pays in points that are redeemed for gift cards, (I’m going for the card!) I have earned the equivalent of over $5 in a week by doing just a few minutes’ worth of surveys and I’m also working on two larger projects that will pay me $10 and $25 for a few minutes of product testing. I do all of these while I’m eating a meal or to relax before bed, so it doesn’t take much time. I highly recommend both of these sites. I don’t think it would be unrealistic to make about $100 a month between the two of them if you put in a small amount of effort. It’s great for paying down debt, making extra pocket money, building savings and more!

Emotional health for children and babies

Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start by Linda Acredolo, PH.D. and Susan Goodwyn, PH.D.

Click here to purchase Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start

I grew up with absent parents who weren’t interested in me at all and I became a very shy and timid wallflower/doormat/underachiever. It took me a long time to really understand how the abusive childhood was still affecting me as an adult, so when I was expecting my first son, I knew I wanted to be the best parent I could be and give him a good start in life. I read dozens of books on the topic! This one was one of the best. I cannot emphasize enough that giving your child emotional support is just as important as giving him or her shelter and food, and the way you validate them and respect them as children sets the stage for how they will see themselves and others for life. I knew I wanted my child to grow up in a loving and supportive environment so he could become a healthy and successful adult. I was very impressed by this book and how much sense it made. I’ve been recommending it to other parents ever since I read it.

Here are the chapter titles:
1. Nature’s Contribution: The Biology of Emotions

Part I–The “Big Five” Goals for Healthy Emotional Development
2. Welcome to the World: Feeling Loved and Secure
3. I’m Feeling Sad: Expressing Emotions Effectively
4. Kid Kindness: Evoking Empathy and Caring About Others
5. I’ve Got a Friend: Developing Healthy Friendships
6. I Can Do Anything: Having Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Part II–The “Big Five” Challenges to Healthy Emotional Development
7. Monsters and Meanies: Addressing Fear and Anxiety
8. No Need to Hide: Dealing with Shyness and Withdrawal
9. Tempers and Tantrums: Handling Anger and Defiance
10. Sticks and Stones: Avoiding Hostility and Aggression
11. Everyone Makes Mistakes: Steering Clear of Shame
12. The Puzzle Pieces of the Heart: Putting It All Together

Early in the book, the authors tell us how important parents are for an infant’s body regulation. For example, feeling our breathing and our skin helps them regulate their breathing and temperature. In fact, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is far more rare in cultures where mothers co-sleep with their babies because the mother’s breaths help regulate the baby’s rhythm. The authors also give an important reality, “…if that parental support is itself erratic or disorganized, then the baby’s developing ability to regulate himself will be compromised accordingly.” No one will be perfect, but it is important that infants know they can can count on the stability of the world around them. From the start, parents need to create an environment to help them regulate their bodies and emotions.

The authors note that babies are born with their own individual temperaments. Some babies will be “easier” than others and some babies will be more “difficult.” They give tips on how to understand and relate to your child’s natural personality so that you can best nurture them. It’s important to form a strong attachment with your child as early as possible because children with a secure attachment are more empathetic, friendly, generous and successful. The authors describe the types of attachment, how to determine what kind your child is and how to nurture them. They go on to give many wonderful ideas and tips and easily explain the scientific studies behind their recommendations. They make it easy to understand how a baby’s mind develops and it is an easy, but important book to read.

Lasting Lessons:
You cannot spoil a baby! They are completely dependent on you to make them feel secure and safe and that is essential to their future emotional health.

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