Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies, Oh My! Michael Okon Releases Paranormal SciFi Monsterland Novel with Book Swag Giveaway

Author and screenwriter Michael Okon will be releasing his YA Paranormal Fantasy novel Monsterland on October, Friday the 13th and DIY Mom is sharing an AWESOME book swag giveaway!

Michael is giving away FIVE signed print copies of Monsterland. Readers will be treated to a thrilling futuristic story that includes Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, a maniacal professor, geeks, jocks and cheerleaders. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty!

Included in the Book Swag giveaway is this fabulous beanie hat. I just happen to have scored one for myself and can report that it's super comfy and made of high quality material. Just in time for those chilly fall days!

The giveaway ends soon so enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Saving the 22 Veterans Outreach Website is Looking for Your Stories

If you’re a Military Veteran who uses the arts as a way to control anxiety, depression and PTSD symptoms then Saving the 22 is looking for you.

The statistics are staggering. PTSD, depression and anxiety are just some of the issues many of our nation’s heroes struggle with daily. Most of us have heard about the benefits of art therapy for children, but there have been surprisingly few studies conducted on the ways creative therapy can help Veterans. However, there are so many wonderful stories out there to prove how creative outlets can help heal our minds, bodies and souls.

The message of Saving the 22 is simple, yet highly encouraging: “Our focus on Saving the 22 is one of faith, hope and optimism. Healing through Creativity is our message and we want to share this message with you through stories, ideas, art, photography and other creative outlets.”

If you have a story to tell, please consider connecting with Saving the 22. Perhaps your message of healing through creativity will motivate someone else to do the same. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Day of the Dead 99¢ Store Craft Haul

If you're like me, you love a great craft bargain. We have tons of dollar stores here in North Texas, but it doesn't seem like we have nearly as many 99¢ Stores. So when we decided to go thrifting a couple of weekends ago, we were thrilled to spot a humongous 99¢ Store close by. I LOVE Dia de los Muertos decorations and found these awesome items just waiting for me on the shelves. 

The plaques, stickers, banner and knee socks were all just 99¢ each! The skull is a nice substantial piece with some weight to it and was just 1.99. 

If you have a 99¢ store near you, you better get over there quick to grab your Halloween and Dia de los Muertos craft and party supplies soon! Happy fall crafting!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Frightfully Funny Halloween Jokes by Uncle Amon is FREE Until 9/29!

I love Uncle Amon's children's books and I know plenty of other adults and children do too. That's why I like to share information about his new book releases and freebies. Uncle Amon just published another Halloween joke book and it's currently FREE on Amazon until 9/29. Grab it while you can!


Frightfully Funny Halloween Jokes and Riddles for Kids

Uncle Amon has created another instant classic for kids! This hilarious and spooky Halloween joke book is filled with lots of funny jokes and riddles about anything and everything Halloween. From zombies to vampires and witches and goblins. Your youngster will be all smiles when telling these silly jokes to friends and family. Also included are fun mazes and puzzles for extra entertainment. Your child will love this awesome Halloween book. Kid tested. Parent approved!
Makes a terrific Halloween gift or goodie bag gift for kids!
  • Tons of hilarious Halloween jokes and riddles
  • Fun "find the difference puzzle" and mazes
  • Lots of laughs when reading aloud with friends and family
Perfect for early and beginner readers to practice reading aloud!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Great Missing Flag Caper by MaryTherese Grabowski is a Wonderful Patriotic Book for Kids!

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing another of MaryTherese Grabowski's children's books recently and I wanted to share it with readers. "The Great Missing Flag Caper" is Ms. Grabowski's fourth book in her "Spirit of America Series" and I loved it! The book is available on Amazon in eBook and print formats. Below is my review.

Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

America Johnson is an elementary student who learns she will be raising and lowering the American flag in front of her school. America knows a lot about her country and her flag and is happy to share her knowledge with friends and family. When America excitedly tells her mom the good news, her mom reminds her to always treat the flag with respect and America promises she will. When the flag goes missing, America makes it her mission to find it as soon as possible and she ends up learning a valuable lesson in the end.

The Great Missing Flag Caper is packed with patriotic information for kids (and adults). I’m not quite sure how old the main character is, since I didn’t see that mentioned within the book. She looks to be a middle grade student. Since the book is heavy on text for most children in grades 1- 4, I'd say this book will appeal to middle grade readers and up. 

Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

The illustrations are vibrant, expressive and eye-catching – sure to keep the attention of kids. The author includes the Pledge of Allegiance and an educational quiz at the end of the book. I love that Ms. Grabowski dedicates this book to her Air Force Veteran husband, with a nod toward all military men and women.

I wish more authors would publish patriotic books like this for kids. Children, in particular, can benefit from the educational message in this book! Thanks to Book Crash and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My IBS Flare Up Was Caused By WHAT?!

I discovered that I have IBS back when I was in my early twenties. If you don’t know what IBS is, it’s an agonizing stomach issue, which seems to affect sufferers differently and to varying degrees. Flare-ups are difficult, if not darn near impossible, to predict. Triggers vary greatly among sufferers as well. The worst thing is there is no cure. You simply have to learn to sort of live around your IBS. There are now some medications available on the market, but I prefer to treat my IBS holistically. It’s what’s worked for me over the years so I’ll stick with that.

So…what has worked for me? Well, one MAJOR change I made was eliminating gluten from my diet. I won’t pretend to completely understand the ins and outs of how gluten is processed in the body. I’ll only say that, once I stopped eating gluten, I went from having biweekly IBS flare ups to having a flare up maybe once every six months or so. In other words, the difference for me was like night and day.

Recently, when I began having terrible IBS symptoms out of the blue, I was perplexed. I was faithfully eating a gluten-free diet. I don’t overeat fiber too many days in a row (another known issue for me). No more GMOs or premade, processed foods. What the heck was it? Well after finally narrowing down the one thing I was “eating” a light bulb went off. Could it be??

After consulting my good friend Google (via IBS message boards, of course) I was relieved and a bit shocked to find that it was the sugar free gum I had only recently started chewing. It just so happened to be Orbit in my case, but it certainly could have been any sugar free gum. It has something to do with the sugar alcohols that are released in the stomach.

Sugar alcohols aren’t actually sugar and they aren’t alcohol. There are FOUR sugar substitute chemicals commonly found in sugar free gum:  maltitolmannitolsorbitol and xylitol. These are the sugar alcohols, which are really non-sugar carbs. These are the culprits that can wreak havoc on your digestive system because they actually have a laxative effect in the stomach. I know! Some people are more sensitive than others (people with certain stomach issues like IBS, for instance).

I was shocked, since I consider myself so cautious about everything I eat (chew) and drink. Needless to say, I immediately omitted the Orbit and bam…problem solved. I've since gone back to my trusty peppermint candy (non-sugar free) and all is well - side note: peppermint is amazing for settling an upset tummy!

I hope you found value in this information. It took me a few days of agony to figure out what was going on and I was dumbfounded when I discovered that a little piece of gum was tearing up my tummy. Hopefully, my experience will help you too! As always, comments are welcome below.

Friday, September 15, 2017

FREE Activities for Kids: Free Fall Fun – Cookie Dough Recipe Included!

Fall isn’t quite here yet. In fact, it’s still in the 90s here in North Texas, but some areas of the country have already had temps dip down into the 50s. Regardless of where you live, fall is often the most favorite season of all. I’m thinking it’s because it’s that awesome in-between time – between the heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter.

Fall will be here before you know and that means it’s time to begin planning for some FREE fall activity ideas. Don’t you just love the word FREE?! I know I do, so I made a list of some fall activity fun for you and your kiddos below. Feel FREE to share your own family’s favorite fall activities in the comments section!

Local Library Activities

This one is first on my list because it’s probably my favorite. No matter where you live, I can guarantee that your local library will host a variety of fall crafty fun for kids.

Search your local library’s website and look for their events calendar – all libraries have these. Just as an example, my own local library lists dozens and dozens of wonderful activities for kids of all ages. Things like a Campfire Sing Along, Pony Roundup, author readings and much more, are on the list. And the great thing is everything is FREE!

A Walk Through the Woods

Even if you live in a large city, you’ll still likely find a park or two. Take the kiddos for a walk and have them gather up twigs, leaves, acorns, etc. to use in their very own nature art.

Children can decorate poster board by gluing their nature finds. To make an even sturdier piece of art, try using scrap wood. Older children can use hot glue. Younger children can use a good tacky glue. Get creative and personalize nature plaques with names made with twigs.

Host a Kid’s Craft Party

I know when my kiddos were young they wanted craft-themed birthday parties for every birthday celebration. Well, you don’t have to wait for birthday time to roll around to host a kid’s craft party! This idea can be done with just your own family, as a family craft night, or you can have your children each invite a friend over to join in. Recycled items make excellent and FREE materials for craft party projects.

Save things like foam packaging (the kind that come with meat and produce – washed super duper well, of course) or scrap wood to use as a base. Then gather feathers, sequins, beads, magazine cutouts, Popsicle sticks and more to use as art elements. Chances are you have tons of these items already at home. Have the kids glue to their heart’s content and presto – instant artwork.

Bake Some Cookies

Fall is a great time to turn on that oven and do some baking. The smell of baking cookies makes any home smell heavenly and…well…homey. Gather your baking supplies and let the kiddos go to town decorating a simple sugar cookie recipe. Most children love rolling sugar cookie dough ala play clay style into shapes and letters. Enjoying the delicious cookies of their labor with an ice cold glass of milk is pretty fun too.

Super Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe


1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 ¾ cups flour


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine butter and sugar together, then add egg and vanilla, and mix to a creamy consistency.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
Slowly add creamed butter mixture to dry ingredients and mix until soft and all flour is incorporated.
Turn out on a lightly floured board. Have children pull off pieces of dough to create their masterpieces and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for easy removal after baking.
Bake for 7 – 10 minutes, watching for light browning on edges. Enjoy!