Winter Weather and Chronic Illness

The seasons have changed once again, and winter is now in full swing.  In many parts of the country, heavy snowstorms are already happening, and we’re not even into the thick of winter.  We even got snow in Louisiana earlier this month!

What some of us may not realize, is that the dry, cold winter air can be harsh on those who suffer from chronic illness.  People with such conditions as emphysema, COPD, fibromyalgia, and mesothelioma–just to name a few–can find themselves with worsening symptoms at this time of year.  I’d like to share a few tips to help keep yourself more comfortable and healthy during this time of year.


Frosty air makes us turn our heaters on, and when the heat is blasting throughout our homes, it’s very drying to skin and our respiratory systems alike.  Heated air can cause flare ups of such skin problems as psoriasis and eczema, and dry out nasal passages and cause breathing issues.  Investing in a good humidifier can help alleviate some of these problems.  In the winter, it’s important to get a humidifier that has adjustable levels so your living room doesn’t end up feeling like an Amazon jungle.  Move the humidifier to the room you are in–when you go to bed, bring it with you.  When one of us is feeling stuffy, I like to add a few drops of essential oils such as peppermint or eucalyptus to help us breathe better and get to sleep.


As I mentioned above, skin often suffers in the heated air as well–and cold winds, too!  Even if you don’t have a chronic skin condition, now is the time to bump up your skin care regimen.  Using creamy, rich body wash is the best way to begin moisturizing.  While you are still in the shower, you can also take the step of using the innovative new product called in-shower lotion, which glides on wet skin!  It truly does help seal in your skin’s natural moisture. If you prefer regular lotion or body cream, use that instead. For your face, consider using a moisturizing cream with SPF.  Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the sun has gone anywhere.  And finally, apply a lip balm several times a day.  Repeat the lotion and lip balm steps before bed as well.


Most importantly, follow any advice your doctor gives you in regards to the cold weather and your illness!  If he or she tells you you should not be outside when it’s cold, stay in!  If you are given the all clear to enjoy the wintry wonderland, take it outside but remember to pamper yourself when you come back in by taking advantage of the advice in this post.

Are you a person who has one of the chronic illnesses (Click here to learn more about mesothelioma) that might be affected by winter weather?  Please share your experience and tips in the comments.  


Interactive Learning With Mobile Apps

Lately, I have been hearing about learning apps on smartphones and I was really curious. Even though I am no longer in college, I realized that people like me can also benefit from these online learning apps to learn whatever we want from the endless lists of subjects and topics available for everyone.

These days, children learn to use electronic devices from a very early age. As we look around us, especially in public places, we see even toddlers stay glued to smartphones or tablets. Regardless of what the child specialists have said, parents are introducing their little ones and exposing them to these electronic devices. It usually starts with the parents allowing their little kids to watch the pre-school learning videos and cartoons as a means of keeping them quiet or occupied while the adults can enjoy a peaceful and undisturbed meal in the restaurants.

Since these little kids are so used to smartphones or tablets, they can easily pick up and learn through learning apps. Parents are now relying on the best online learning apps as a potent tool of learning for their pre-schoolers as well as elementary school children.

The trend of learning using smartphones, tablets, or iPads is fast spreading across the globe, affecting students’ learning habits. Students ranging from pre-schooler to college enjoy the benefit of free video learning apps to help them understand and remember easily.

Modern kids are very open to these learning apps, and parents and teachers alike are finding that kids learn faster through these apps. Teachers are now encouraging parents to allow their children to learn through apps to help their children improve on their studies. Educational information from textbooks is now stored in apps and the apps are designed in such a way to capture the children’s attention, such as using popular cartoon characters to draw their interest.

This Google play homework app can be easily downloaded onto any electronic device. Once downloaded, it is available at all times for students to have access to educational videos whenever convenient. Most of the learning apps are user or child-friendly for  little children to learn how to control the app. The lessons provided are very interactive activities, and children will not be bored with the different activities such as word games, coloring games, or even origami.

With guidance from their parents, children can benefit from the wide variety of online learning programs provided through these learning apps.

Last Minute Gifts are a Breeze with Mary Kay

So Christmas will be here in FOUR short days.  If you haven’t finished shopping, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to fight the crowds, to have to drag your kids around the mall, or to take the chance with sometimes unreliable overnight shipping.

Today I would like to let you in on a gift shopping idea you might not be familiar with.  And chances are, you can shop right in your neighborhood.  Do you have a Mary Kay lady?

Here in central Louisiana, my friend Jennifer Dupont is a Mary Kay consultant, and she has opened my eyes to the new direction this company is taking!  Instead of tired old pink lipsticks and basic skin products, you should now think of Mary Kay as a hub for all your premium makeup and advanced skin care needs.  Parties are jovial and have a spa-like vibe.  Who doesn’t want a mini facial while hanging out with their friends?

In addition to such on trend items as charcoal masks, your consultant has tons of ideas for gifts and even pre-made bundles that will make your gift giving beyond easy.



The cool thing about giving Mary Kay for the holidays is that most of the time, you don’t have to wait.  Many consultants keep a large stock on hand and can deliver your purchase within a day or so.  

And if you’re absolutely at a loss for what to give, you can always get a gift certificate!  Mary Kay has a ton of items for $25 or under, so your gift certificate will go a long way.

If you don’t need to give a gift, but just want to freshen up your own look, your consultant can help you with that too.  Mary Kay has everything from brow gel to lip gloss to liquid and powder foundations, and your consultant would love to help you find the shade that’s perfect for you.

No matter what you need for your beauty and skin care needs, there’s a chance that Mary Kay has a product that can help you!  And there are also lines for the guys, body and skin care.

If you don’t have a consultant of your own, I would love to recommend Jennifer!  Although she might not be near to you, she can ship items.  Jennifer is friendly and loves to meet new people.  For all of your Mary Kay needs, check her out here.

**DISCLAIMER: I do not sell Mary Kay nor was I paid for this post! I am helping out my friend and I have found that Mary Kay makeup works for me!

How to Make Your Backyard a Place You Actually Want to Spend Time In

You’re wasting your backyard if you don’t want to spend time in it. Your backyard should be a place where you go to relax or to have fun. But for many people, their backyards are simply part of their property, and they don’t spend any time in them because they’re not fixed up. If this sounds like your home, here are a few ideas on how to fix up your yard, and turn it into a place in which you actually want to spend time.


Do Some Landscaping

First up, think about if your backyard needs some landscaping. Consider adding in some bushes, trees, a garden, or grass. You want your backyard to look alive, and adding colorful flowers or healthy plants is a great way to achieve this. You can do smaller projects on your own, but for larger work consider hiring a professional landscaper.


Add a Patio

Next, you’re going to want a place to sit within your backyard. Lawns are often uneven, so installing a patio is the best way to go. A patio gives you a flat space for things like chairs, tables, benches, and more. When done right, a patio is an excellent addition to any yard, and makes it more likely that you’ll spend time out there.


Set Up a Fire Pit or Fireplace

On chilly nights there’s nothing better than gathering around a fire. You can’t just set fire to whatever is nearby though. Digging a fire pit within the yard is one option, or you can purchase a fireplace for outdoors. Either option gives you a way to warm up on cold nights, and something to gather around. Now you can spend time outside at night as well as during the day.


Install A Water Feature

Another great add to any patio or backyard space is a water feature. One option is to install a pond, with a built-in fountain or waterfall. Ponds look great in almost any yard, and if you add a fountain or waterfall, the relaxing sounds add to the atmosphere. Another option is to use a pond-less waterfall. These are typically smaller in size, but still provide you with the relaxing sound of falling water. In fact, according to Paradise Ponds, a Colorado Springs based landscaping company, pond-less waterfalls are one of the hottest trends. Consider any of these options if you want a water feature in your yard.


Play Some Music

If you don’t want to listen to just water running, then add in some of your favorite music. With a portable Bluetooth speaker you can connect directly to your favorite device, and play whatever music you’d like. Speakers come in all shapes and sizes – some even look like rocks to blend in – so you’re sure to find something that works for your needs and budget.


Make it Comfortable

All of these additions to your backyard go to waste if you are unable to enjoy them. For that, you need some comfortable seating in the area. This could be as simple as adding some comfy chairs around a table, or you could install a swinging chair, or even a hammock. Lounge chairs are also another option if you want the ability to lay down. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s comfortable so that you are likely to spend even more time outside.


Keep Pests Away

Imagine you’ve done some of the suggestions above – such as adding in a relaxing waterfall on your patio, along with some comfortable lounge chairs. You’re outside enjoying your new space, when suddenly mosquitoes start to bite. This will quickly put an end to your relaxing time. When you’re working on your yard, take steps to keep pests away from the area. Candles can sometimes help, as can a fan. Also remove any sources of standing water nearby. For larger pests – such as mice – think about installing a fake owl to scare them away. If you want to know more, here are some suggestions for keeping pets away from your yard.


Give Yourself Some Privacy

Finally, if you’re going to be spending more time outside, either by yourself or with company, you’ll want some privacy. Unless you have a lot of space between you and your neighbors, you’ll likely want to put something up to block their view. One option is to install a fence, or you could plant some large bushes or trees. No one likes the feeling that someone is watching them, so give yourself the privacy you deserve while building up your backyard.


Don’t Let Your Yard go to Waste

If you’re lucky enough to have a yard at your home, you don’t want it to go to waste. By following a few of the simple suggestions mentioned above, you can turn your yard into a place you love to spend time. There are plenty of ways to transform a backyard, and once you get started, you’ll love the difference they make.

5 Creative Building Projects for Your Backyard

Once you’ve been settled in your own Sweet Southern Home for a while, the conversation on remodeling will probably present itself. Of course, whatever changes you make to the house, you’ll want to keep it as cheap as you can, but you can also take on building projects to freshen up your property that make less drastic changes. That, of course, would be projects for the backyard. It’s a space separate from the actual home so there’s no need to knock down any walls, but you’ll still get the satisfaction of building on and changing the place you call home.

Fire Pit

Everyone loves sitting around fires. It’s a classic camping activity that many bring to their backyard. It’s a social place and something everyone can be entertained and kept warm by. While many homeowners will just stick a metal fire pit in the backyard, if you want to turn heads, you can go the full nine years and build one into the land.

This is a good project because there’s a lot of ways you can take it. You could just make a circle of bricks sticking out of a hole in the ground, or you could get way more creative. Either way, as long as you’ve sealed it off from being catch fire to anything around it, then the hard work is done, making this one of the easier projects, while also being very creative.


Horseshoe Pit

For every backyard gathering, there’s always a great outdoor game. Horseshoes can be fun for anyone no matter how old you are so this is a great feature of any backyard. There’s a few different approaches, but whatever you decide it’ll be fun for everyone.

Most people just go with the simple two stakes in the ground, but this outdoor game building guide will show you the ropes to making one that takes the game to a new level. The backboards make finding the horseshoes easier and the whole setup is very pleasing to the eye. There’s plenty of other ideas for game areas you can build in that guide too, so you don’t have to stop at horseshoes.


If you have horses, or plan on owning them, then you want a barn. But, even if you have no interest in them, a barn is a great addition to a backyard that provides a ton of space and a great work area in general. Think of it as your huge shed, a barn is gives you a great amount of covered space to store whatever you want, and everyone can use some more storage.

You can take the traditional route and build a wooden barn. You could also go for the more durable route and build a horse barn. Building a barn in general is a huge task to take on, but luckily if you’re trying to build a metal barn you can get some help in that process. Elephant Structures is a company that will give you everything you need to build a metal barn. They’ll work with you to get all the features you want, and create a solid blueprint for it. They work with solid materials, and if you want they’ll install it for you, but since this is about building projects, they’ve got custom kits that can be delivered right to your home.


If you’ve got kids, then treehouses are great gifts for them. It gives them a place space and a sense of adventure. It’s also a great aesthetic feature to have a suspended structure like that. While everyone is socializing during your backyard gatherings, it would hard for that not to be a talking point.

This is also a great collaborative project, because not everyone can get up in a tree and start building a little house by themselves. Get a crew together, make your blueprint, and have a blast on this project.

A Deck

For number 5, it’s a pretty classic no-brainer. Building a deck gives a very level sitting area for any outdoor furniture you want. You can put stick the grill on there, table and chairs, whatever you want, it’s basically another open-air room.

This is great for any house that has the space because it sections off your backyard, making it a more complex space. That’s especially great for entertaining because you’ve got many areas that people can wander through that are all used for different purposes. It turns your backyard into the hot spot for the neighborhood parties automatically.

Always wished to have a tree house targeted spotify playlist followers
by the way impressive and creative at the same to buy instagram followers

Winter Children’s Book Round Up

We’re well into the holiday season and the winter weather is also here!  Believe it or not, it snowed in Louisiana last week!

Today I’d like to share some quick reviews of winter books we are loving in our house lately.

Snow Beast Comes to Play

by Phil Gosier

Very sweet story about a young snow creature who only wants to make friends, but everyone is scared of him! Cute, snowy illustrations, and full of fun sound effects for reading out loud.  Preschoolers will love this one for bedtime, if they are OK with the mention of the word “beast.”

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter

by Kenard Pak

Gorgeous watercolor pictures show a brother and sister walking through nature and having a conversation with leaves, animals, and even the sun! The children learn what happens to each thing as autumn turns into winter.  Very informative and great for kids who ask a lot of questions 😀

Snow Scene

by Richard Jackson, Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Simple book with few words and a quick rhyme scheme.  Short enough for my toddler to sit still and listen to.  This is an interactive reading activity for parents and kids to do together! I would recommend for 2-3 year olds.

Ninja Claus!

by Arree Chung

Cute and clever book about a young ninja named Maxwell who tries to catch Santa one Christmas Eve night, but his plan doesn’t quite turn out the way he expects it to! Kids in Kindergarten and first grade will giggle at the letters Max writes to Santa.

Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas

by Pamela Ehrenberg, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar

Unique story about a multicultural family’s holiday celebrations, and one boy’s adventure with his mischievous little sister!  I liked reading this with my older son because he loves learning about other cultures, and we could research unfamiliar terms that we came across together.  Jewish children will be familiar with the terms and love seeing themselves in the characters.  I know my son could relate to having a younger sibling that drives him crazy!


I would recommend any of these books as gifts for the child in your life this holiday season!


Tech Talk: Buying a Smart Home Device

If you keep up with tech and electronic news or have even picked up a sales ad for major stores in the past year and a half, it’s plain to see that smart home devices are gaining in popularity.  For almost every device or machine that is in your home, there is a “smart” way to control it; from washing machines, to your thermostat, to your television and much more, it’s becoming more common to see smart devices in people’s homes.  With the plethora of products and brands out there, it can be a little overwhelming to find the right item to purchase to suit your needs.  In this post, I’ll share some points to think about when you’re looking to buy smart.

What do you want to control?

Smart devices often have settings that let you put timers on the thing you are controlling, or turn them on and off while you are not even home, or schedule a function from the touch of your phone.  Once you think about what you want to do with your appliance or household item, then you know what you can shop for.  Want to turn your central air on before you come back home from a long trip? You would benefit from a smart thermostat such as Nest.  Devices like Philips Hue let you control your home’s lighting.

How much do you want to be involved?

If you are interested in a device that can get to know you and help you in many ways on an every day basis, you want something like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.  These are essentially “smart speakers” that can answer questions, set timers, look up information, add calendar events, and much more.  Not only that, these products often can tell the difference between users’ voices and respond in kind.  They are highly customizable and can make life easier in a lot of ways.

Are you comfortable with the integration of tech into your personal life?

As specialists such as Andrew Charlton have noted, technological automation has been highly unavoidable as the world relies more and more on machinery and computers.  Some people are happy to embrace change and advancement, and others hesitate at the thought of machines knowing so much about them and their lives.  Smart home devices WILL learn about your habits and use them to perfect the way they work for you.  You must make sure you are comfortable with what is essentially computer chips knowing so much about your day to day life.  There are some people who believe that these devices can be hacked into and the information they hold used in some unsavory way; I am not of this mindset.  Authors such as Andrew Charlton have written multiple articles about the future of automation in the world.  It’s up to you to make the decision as to whether smart home devices are right for your life.

Tips to Make Sure your Guests Enjoy your Wedding

Weddings are joyous occasions that everyone looks forward to attending. It is a time to make merry, celebrate the couple, link up with old friends and get to know new people as well. Fashion statements are also made in the wedding from the dress code of the guests, to the bridal party and ultimately the bride’s gown along with the groom’s attire. As the couple, as much as the day is in your honor, it is essential to prioritize the guests who have made the time and effort to be there on your special day. In this post we discuss the best ways to ensure that the guests are pleased and enjoying themselves.


  1. Try to stick to timelines.

There is nothing as frustrating to guests as when the program is not followed. It makes them feel like their time and presence is taken for granted. Do your best to adhere to the timelines your party planner has set, and this will go a long way to keeping the mood light and festive.


  1. Choose thoughtful wedding favors.

Wedding favors show your guests that you acknowledge and appreciate their presence. There is no formula as to what should be chosen as a wedding favor. You can gift anything you feel your guests can relate to; personalized wedding favors for your guests are getting popular these days.

Wedding favors are an essential part of the wedding because you will not have the time to acknowledge each person at your wedding personally. A wedding favour is a wonderful way to show them your appreciation. You can also explore these wedding favor ideas.


  1. Provide refreshments as they wait.

The refreshments come in to play when the guests are waiting for your bridal team to arrive and the ceremony to begin. Your invites can get to mingle while munching away on drinks and snacks and this helps to pass the time and also keep the atmosphere pleasant.


  1. Issue transportation.

If the venue of the wedding ceremony and the venue of the reception are far apart, you can provide transport to the guests so that they do not feel inconvenienced to get to the reception. The aim is for the guests to enjoy both the ceremony and the reception, not to remember how much of a hustle it was to move around.


  1. Place thank you notes on the tables.

The notes are an excellent surprise for the guests and give a personal touch to the occasion. They also contribute to the deco of the wedding, making it look classy as well as elegant. The note can contain a short message from you thanking the guests for their presence.


  1. Give realistic accommodation recommendations.

If the wedding is in a remote area where the guests will be required to stay in hotels, it is vital to provide good suggestions on where to stay. You should plan on where they can be comfortably accommodated and if it is in motels or hotels, make sure that the prices are pocket-friendly and convenient for the guests.

All these tips are guaranteed to enrich the experience of all the people who will attend your wedding!


REVIEW: All my Friends are Fast Asleep by David Weinstone

All my Friends are Fast Asleep

by David Weinstone

Illustrated by Magali Le Huche

Children’s Fiction/Bedtime Stories

Book Description

After tossing and turning in his bed, a little boy embarks on a nighttime quest to find a cozy place to rest. He visits one animal friend after another, from a lark in its nest to a mole in its hole. But while all the animals he meets are happily dozing off, this tuckered-out wanderer remains wide-awake–until he finally finds the perfect spot to lay his head.

From David Weinstone, the popular children’s musician and creator of the Music for Aardvarks program, comes All My Friends Are Fast Asleep, a rhythmic, cheerily illustrated bedtime story sure to smooth the way to sleep for young insomniacs everywhere.



All My Friends Are Fast Asleep
by David Weinstone

With such a light, lyrical story as this your child is sure to be on his way to dream land when this story is finished!

A boy lies in bed in his room but no matter what he does, he can’t fall asleep! He decides to go off adventuring and trying to imitate his animal friends to see if their methods of falling asleep can help him.

The illustrations in this book are cute, and done in a brilliant, non bright color scheme that won’t excite little readers’ eyes right before bed. Blues, greens, and purples set the tone.

My first thoughts were that a kid can definitely relate to this little boy. His bedroom is a mess with toys scattered everywhere, he has a pillow and stuffed animal he drags all around, and he imagines all kinds of things before he finally goes off to sleep.

I think kids will find it fun to see how different animals such as whales, frogs, and horses fall asleep. I also love that this story can be read or sung!

View all my reviews


About the Author

DAVID WEINSTONE is a classically trained former punk rocker who lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and three children. He founded Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals, an interactive music class for preschoolers, in 1997. Today, the classes are taught all over the country, and there are sixteen original albums that feature Weinstone’s beloved songs. His books include Music Class Today! and All My Friends Are Fast Asleep.



Must Have Apps for the Holiday Season

Even though the Holidays are upon us, that doesn’t mean that we as tech savvy humans will be spending less time on our smart phones.  Whether you’re looking for new recipes or trying to avoid talking to your nosy cousin, you will need some helpful, attention getting apps on your phone.  Here are my favorites!

If you don’t have Pinterest by now, where have you been for the last five years? 😀 Pinterest is a hub where anyone can create and share ideas.  From unique recipes, to how-tos on how to roast a turkey, to step by step guides on making slime for kids, Pinterest is an app so many of us can get lost in.  It’s also filled with gift ideas, so it’s one to keep on your phone year round!

You can get Pinterest HERE for iOS, and HERE for Android.


If you’ve stayed too long at your host’s house because you’re having so much fun, or you’ve decided that you just can’t bear to hear any more of your uncle’s grossly over exaggerated stories, Hotel Tonight is the app you need.  This app is designed specifically for finding you a hotel room on short notice.  It aggregates nearby hotels at the best prices, and has a simple to use interface.  I have used this app myself and I had no issues at all upon checking in to the hotel.  You can look at amenities and hotel ratings before you book, and there are often coupon codes available.

You can get Hotel Tonight HERE for iOS, and HERE for Android.


Speaking of coupon codes; you know you need to shop this next few weeks, so why not make the most of your money?  Retail Me Not is amazing for finding coupons and deals for your favorite stores and restaurants.  You can find coupon codes to use online, or those for in store use.  Users can also vote on whether or not a certain coupon code worked for them, so you won’t have to waste your time trying codes and seeing if one works.  Black Friday sales can be found here too.

You can get Retail Me Not HERE for iOS, and HERE for Android.


I haven’t yet met a person young or old who wasn’t fascinated with this app! Think of a character from anything–movie, book, television show.  Akinator the Genie will ask you questions until he figures out who or what you are thinking about.  This app is playable by even younger children, because most can answer yes or no questions about their favorite characters.  Once you try it, you will try more and more because you realllly want to stump him 🙂

You can get Akinator HERE for iOS and HERE for Android.

**Note–another fun game you can ask questions is Ask Bongo.  The game has two versions but it’s better if you pay to Ask Bongo!

I hope this guide will help you get through the season with minimal stress and maximum enjoyment! Let me know some of your must have apps in the comments.