Saturday, July 14, 2018

#SelfLove - The Most Important #Love There Is

Here's another little sketch I shared on my Instagram recently. I thought my readers might find it inspirational :)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Grilled Mini Pizzas with a Gluten Free Option

Just a super quick post to share what the hubs and I did over the weekend. We grilled burgers and hot dogs and, as usual, the grill was still incredibly hot after we finished. So what does a clever husband do for his wife? He comes up with a quick, simple and YUMMY grilled pizza idea.

His is the flour tortilla with jalapenos (of course) and mine is the gluten-free corn tortilla, with fresh and yummy tomatoes option. They were AMAZINGLY delicious! We opted to leave out the tomato sauce, but maybe next time we'll change things up. 

Let me know if you try this and what you think :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Monsterland Reanimated by Michael Okon Character Interview with Wyatt Baldwin with GIVEAWAY

Q: Readers were glad to know you survived the original Monsterland theme park. Did you have your doubts?

I was surrounded by werewolves, vampires, and zombies. I had a rifle pointed at my head. My best friend turned into a werewolf. Yes, to say the least, I had my doubts.

Q: What’s changed for you since you walked away from your near death experience in Monsterland?

Well, I know what happened to my father. Frankly, I’m even more confused now than I was before. Also, the world is in disarray. I need to find out what’s going on outside Copper Valley, but Carter and my mom won’t let me go. So annoying. Then there’s Jade. She’s not what I expected her to be.

Q: When we left you, you were a geeky high school senior. How are you different now?

I’ve decapitated a werewolf. I’ve grown a bit since my last days of whatever is left of school.

Q: Much of the world’s future now depends on you and your friends. Did you ever imagine you’d be put in such an important role?

Not in a million years. I have a long road ahead of me. I’m what most people call a Hero’s Journey. I’m just getting started, and the first thing I need to do, is find out what the hell is going on outside Copper Valley. Rumor is a slimy purple substance is sucking the life out of all the surrounding towns.

Q: On the lighter side of things, how are things going with Jade? Or can readers expect to read about a new love interest?

Um. So yeah. Jade. She’s um, changed a bit, and not the same girl I was expecting her to be. As for a new romance…well, I’m not at liberty to say…*wink, wink*

Michael Okon is a bestselling author and screenwriter. Monsterland Reanimated, Book Two in the Monsterland series, was just released on April 13, 2018 and promises to be bigger and badder than Book One. Michael invites readers to connect with him on his website. 


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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Free to Kill by Julie Mellon is a GREAT First Book in a Gripping FBI Series - This Book is Currently FREE!

In "Free to Kill", FBI Agent Katie Freeman is recently reassigned from Louisiana to Tennessee when she’s immediately tasked with investigating the horrific death of a local woman. 

Katie and her hunky partner Michael must wade through the mounting evidence to find the sadistic killer before he kidnaps and kills again.

I liked this book. It had all the elements I look for in a suspenseful murder mystery. I enjoyed following the FBI’s investigative procedures and learning about Katie and Michael’s backgrounds. The story moves along at a nice, brisk pace without any annoying story speed bumps to slow things down. 

I had just two minor criticisms: The first was that Katie is supposed to have been raised in a sheltered environment, yet in just a few weeks her mother’s friend is able to get Katie set with a driver’s license and other government paperwork – far too quick to be believable. The second was the sometimes-stilted dialogue, where people spoke without using contractions. It wasn’t done consistently enough to be unbearable, but it was done often enough for me to notice.

One last thing I’d say about the graphic nature of the kidnappings and killing here, since some reviewers expressed that it was a deal breaker for them. Yes, there was some mention of medieval style torture, but it was brief and not overly descriptive. I think it was actually necessary to some degree. It added an extra layer to the story and eventually led Katie and Michael to the killer.

This book kept me entertained and reading along, and I finished in less than a day. I liked Katie and Michael’s characters, and the author’s writing enough to be willing to read more books in this series.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

*This book is currently FREE on Amazon so grab it while you can!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Etsy is Set to Take an Even Bigger Cut of Your Hard Earned Dollars

I admit it... I tried the Etsy thing and I hated it. The competition is so fierce on the site that it's nearly impossible to thrive - unless you're willing to pay extra for ads and other perks. 

Now it's about to get even more difficult for struggling Etsy shops to keep their heads above water. Etsy just announced fee hikes and new tier structured plans. The plans launch in 2019 and include what Etsy is calling:

  • Standard (no monthly fee)
  • Plus ($10 Monthly fee)
  • Premium (Fees yet to be announced)

Fees will be jumping from 3.5% to 5%. Ouch.

Below is the email I received the other day. It included a lovely, heartwarming video and a link for sellers who want to know more about how Etsy is bilking cottage businesses out of even more money. I chose not to include those in this post. 

If you have any feedback I'd love to hear it. Feel free to post your comments below.

The Email:

Dear Seller Community,

We’re writing to tell you about some changes at Etsy. We’ve been helping sellers on their creative journeys for 13 years now. We’ve focused on making Etsy the best place to run your creative business, and we’ve listened to sellers like you to learn more about what you need from us. 

Now, we’re planning to invest even more in bringing buyers to Etsy, building seller tools, and improving your seller experience. To help make this happen, we’re updating our fees, and we’re adding some new features. 

Effective July 16, Etsy’s transaction fee will increase from 3.5% to 5% and it will also apply to the cost of shipping. All other fees, including listing fees, will remain the same.

We’re also introducing new optional feature packages designed around the needs of sellers at different stages of growth, so you can access the right tools at the right time for your business. 

If you’re happy with the services you currently use on Etsy, you can still access all the tools that are currently available to you without paying a monthly subscription fee. But if you want to do more, we’ll be offering two new plans: Etsy Plus, with tools to help businesses grow and express their unique brands, will be available in July. Etsy Premium, with more advanced tools for larger-scale businesses, will launch in 2019. 

Explore our video and website to learn more about what’s changing and look for more information in the weeks to come. We’re excited to see what’s next for all of us as we continue to invest more in growing your business, together.

Book Review of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I'm happy to say that I've had the pleasure of reading another 5 star book on the PBS The Great American Read list. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is an excellent classic and I highly recommend it. 

My book review is below. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts! 

Andalusian shepherd boy Santiago sells his sheep and leaves his home in Spain to find buried treasure near the Pyramids after he has a prophetic dream. Along the way, he meets a gypsy, a king, a beautiful girl and an alchemist. Several obstacles complicate his journey, which causes Santiago to doubt himself and his quest. Yet, as he perseveres, he finds much more about the treasures of the heart than any material riches he could have ever imagined.

I loved this book. It’s an allegory that’s filled with lovely, rich imagery and a powerfully important message: You must be willing to be an active participant in your destiny (Personal Legend) even when it means stepping out of your own comfort zone.

The wording is simple, yet poignant. The book is short, but there is much to learn here. I can see why The Alchemist is a classic book that has been translated into many languages over the years. The allegories within the story are used brilliantly – the sheep, the treasure, and the alchemy all have alternate meanings.

There is a spiritual (religious?) slant to The Alchemist, and one that I didn’t mind, but some people might. I certainly didn’t feel that it was overdone and I can say that it didn’t overpower the story. This is a book that I’d highly recommend reading!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog