Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Keto Crockpot Cookbook by Adele Baker is a Great Way to Jump Start Your Keto Nutrition Fitness Journey

It seems wherever you look nowadays, there's new information about Keto diets. Keto diets seem to be all the rage and with good reason. Keto means eliminating carbs, or at the very least keeping them to a bare dietary minimum. 



Low carbs translates to high fat-burning and that's excellent for losing weight and staying in shape. I've been on a Keto diet for over a year and can say it positively works. 



The Keto Crockpot Cookbook by Adele Baker is a beneficial book for anyone pursuing a Keto lifestyle.




DIY Mom Book Review:

The Keto Crockpot Cookbook is so much more than just recipes. The author has included some fantastic information on how Keto diets work, along with a generous list of what to eat and what not to eat on a Keto diet.

The recipes are super simple, convenient and delicious. I can't wait to try them all! This is a great book for anyone interested in beginning a Keto lifestyle or anyone who is already there and needs more ideas!

5 of 5 Stars, Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review of Zen Camera by David Ulrich

I LOVE photography and I love photography books. I'm always looking for new ways to improve my photography skills, so when I had the opportunity to review David Ulrich's new book Zen Camera I grabbed it. I was not at all disappointed. This is a gorgeous book, filled with tons of great photography advice!



As the book’s subtitle states, Zen Camera by David Ulrich is a creative awakening with a daily practice in photography. It’s meant to inspire photographers to see creatively and to live authentically.

Zen Camera begins with an introduction, and a chapter on the basic principles and methods of photography. From there, the book is divided into six separate and distinct lessons to include:

  • Observation
  • Awareness
  • Identity
  • Practice
  • Mastery
  • Presence

A chapter titled Photography and Awakening, the Terrors and Pleasures of Digital Life is included at the end of the lessons and addresses photography in the 21st century.

This book is filled with tons of expert information to enable photographers to begin their own Zen photography journey. There aren’t as many photos as I’m used to with photography books, but the photos that are here are certainly stunning. I don’t think the sparse amount of photos takes away from the value of the book, however.

The quality of this book is wonderful. The pages are glossy and the hard cover is sturdy, which makes this a great book to display on a coffee table. I’d recommend it to anyone who’d like a new perspective on photography. Thanks to the publisher and Blogging for Books for a complimentary copy.


5 of 5 Stars, Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

Friday, February 16, 2018

DIY Mom Blog Healthy Living Series - My Health and Fitness Journey Continued

In the last installment of my Healthy Living Series, I talked about what led to my declining health and how I was forced to make some radical changes. This time I’ll be going into more detail. For anyone who may be experiencing the same or similar health issues, I want to assure you that you CAN turn things around. The important thing is to simply begin!



Like many women of a certain age, I had suddenly found myself having to work at staying fit. Hormonal changes, and lifestyle and diet changes had crept up on me without my realizing it. I’d long since recognized that gluten was a major irritant for my longtime IBS issues. I’d gotten control of the debilitating and agonizing bouts of IBS, but I made one big mistake. Gluten free foods do not translate to low calorie. Basically, I went hog-wild with the gluten free pasta, breads and other high carb foods simply because I'd found a gluten free way to continue eating them.



Then, when I began experiencing frequent bladder infections, I decided to ditch over-the-counter meds in favor of cranberry juice. In my mind, this was a healthy choice. Wrong again. Tons of sugar and carbs were lurking in those heaping glasses of cranberry juice.

Are you beginning to see a trend? Carbs were making me overweight, sluggish and unhealthy. Yet, I had no clue as to what the heck was going on…until I met with my cardiologist after my ER visit. The verdict? NO CARBS and MORE EXERCISE.



My blood tests revealed even worse news. I was pre-diabetic, had high cholesterol, severe high blood pressure and needed to turn things around ASAP or I was at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Truthfully, that ER visit, and my cardiologist, saved my life.

I was immediately put on blood pressure meds – two of them. The doctor also wanted to prescribe high cholesterol meds. I declined these, insisting that I’d gain control of this through diet and exercise. He reluctantly agreed.

That very same day I swore off carbs. ALL CARBS. And it was extremely tough at first. I was famished constantly. I had a low-grade headache for a week or so. But I stuck with it because I was committed to see this through.


Although I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a few years ago, I slowly began an exercise regimen. I knew I could still walk and I’d always loved walking to stay fit. This was a natural choice for me then. Unfortunately, between the extreme Texas heat and the high instance of free roaming neighborhood dogs, I had to rethink my plan. The alternative? An at home walking fitness regimen. Who would have thought that you could actually get in shape and lose weight by walking in your living room? I can honestly say that this absolutely works. Check out Leslie Sansone’s DVDs. That girl can push the limits of walking for sure!

copyright 2018 Leslie Sansone

I began with fifteen-minute walking routines per day, without weights. Worked my way to longer routines and added free weights – first 1 lb and now I’m doing 3 lb weights. I know that’s not exactly heavyweight material, but it suits me fine. And it’s definitely working. Since my ER visit, almost two years ago now, I’ve ditched all meds except a half of BP pill. I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I have more energy now than I’ve had in probably ten years. I’m fit, trim and doing tons better. I chose to keep myself from being a statistic, stayed with my new diet and fitness regimen and I plan to keep moving one day at a time. I've added a few "good" carbs here and there, but I've kept them to a strict minimum.

This was the humble beginnings of my fitness journey. I'm here to tell you that you can definitely do this too!

Next time I'll talk a little bit about the confusing topic of carbs, and how and with what to substitute them and a few other things. Please join me!



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Dog Food Recall Alert

Lola and I wanted to share this important notice that we found online today. 


As a pet parent, I'm naturally concerned when there's an issue with any sort of pet food. When I spotted this new dog food recall I knew I wanted to share it here. It looks as though it concerns canned dog food and not any of the dry food varieties. 


*More info on this article from The Dogington Post here. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Author Interview and Book Swag Giveaway with Judith Kohnen Author of For the Love of Mandy Romance Novel and Series

I'm excited to have romance author Judith Kohnen with me today on my blog! Judith is the author of the Mandy Story book series. Her latest installment, For the Love of Mandy, has just been released so I reached out to ask her a few questions about the book, the series and what's she's been up to since One Chance, One Moment came out. It seems that One Chance, One Moment has won several book awards since we last spoke. How exciting! Judith shares some other great information so let's get on with the interview...


Can you tell us a little bit about your new book For the Love of Mandy?

This new release is the sequel to the nine-time award-winning novel, One Chance, One Moment – originally inspired by the oldies hit song from the 70s titled Mandy. You know … the one who came and gave without taking, but he sent he sent her away?

Anyway, For the Love of Mandy takes off right from where the first book ended, but unlike the first book that sends the reader off onto a humorous spin of unexpected romance, this second installment hurls the reader into a world of danger and intrigue. Yes, still with bouts of humor now and again, but also on a more serious note involving sacrifice, desperateness, as well as that enticing emotion we call want, and the more survival instinct we call need. Any questions left hanging from the first book is answered in this second book. The new book trailer – which I created in less than a week after a quick self-learning period with Adobe Premier Pro – relays this shift where the continuing story evolves into a more suspenseful mode. What the trailer does not reveal is the stronger “family” aspect of this continued story, and how a mere boy of nine-years-old teams up with his “new dad” to rescue the woman who will make their life complete.

I totally love Garry – the main protagonist male of this book – yet I’m totally in love just as much with Eddie – who plays both protagonist and antagonist in very unique ways. Who will end up with Mandy? Only one will.


This book is the second installment in your Mandy series, with One Chance, One Moment being your first. Is it necessary to read One Chance prior to reading For the Love of Mandy?

Oh no, one should be able to pick up the second book without reading the first. However, my hope is that, no matter what, the reader will be curious enough to want to read the first book if they should read the second first. The fact that it reads without the necessity of reading the first book has been proven by my step as an author to ensure this second book could stand on its own. An editor of Writer’s Digest (second Draft Services, which I HIGHLY recommend), and another avid reader from Readers’ Favorite Review service assured this second had the ability to do just that. I would suggest to any author who is writing a sequel, especially one that continues with the same exact characters, to have their sequel read by those who have never read the prequel. Maureen Dangarembizi for Readers' Favorite said this: “Though For The Love Of Mandy is the second and last book in this series, it is easy to follow and connect the events that lead to the explosive ending.” From Writer’s Digest editor Terri Valentine: “What a perfect ending to the novel. You paced the drama and black moment followed by the resolution perfectly. Great dialogue and sense of scene and chapter.”

What do you enjoy most about writing romance novels?

LOL, why running away from the real world, of course! Reality is not always what we hope it to be. Unfortunately, some of our wishes and life happenings are not “novel” material, particularly concerning happy endings. I think that’s what I LOVE most about romance novels. Nearly every one of them has a happy ending. Of course, there are those like “The Titanic” and “Gone With The Wind” that are a bit less than satisfying … yet with the Titanic, there is that “Other Side” happy ending that was satisfying enough for me … and with Scarlet & Rhett, my imagination was left believing that yes, surely, they would find each other in some near future moment! I admit that I hate unhappy endings (which is why I’ll never write one), and that I honestly write romance for the happy ever after (no matter that challenges get in the way now and then!).

Do you read many romance novels?

As an author, I wish I could say “yes” because frankly, the more reading one can absorb in their daily life, the better writer an author can be. An author learns from other authors … what to do, but mostly, what not to do. In all honesty, I have little time in my day to read; however, it is always my goal to make such time to see what others are putting out for their readers. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and thus, the reason I spend so much time on one book. But I know what I put out is my best, or so I try. I’m not in for the “how many can I produce to make the most income” but rather “how many I touch and heal who needs healing or who needs a lift-me-up?” That might be my downfall, yet I believe in it somehow – what I do; what I create. I know I have a lot more in me that I’m not allowing to play out. My hope is that I’ll write more in the near future. Read more as well. My focus now is putting out the “stories that matter.” I’m presently reading authors who have managed to retrieve a load of followers due to their ability to produce stories that people are attracted to. So many different likes and dislikes out there. As an author, the best work is produced as the result of what that author most loves and is inspired by.

Will there be a sequel to For the Love of Mandy in the future?

For the Love of Mandy is actually the last of The Mandy Story; however, the story does continue with Robbie – the nine-year-old boy who grows to be a man. It’s a possibility that I will write some short stories that take off from The Mandy Story. The book I’m presently working on is about the boy from the first and second book of The Mandy Story, but twenty years later, who works for NASA and quite intelligent and important in the U.S.A. This next book (if it should be my next … as I’ve other books in mind, both fiction & non-fiction that I’m working on), Robbie, will have his own romance. I’ve actually placed a sneak peek at the end of FOR THE LOVE OF MANDY for this new adventure that asks the question … how does a young man in a wheelchair teach a girl about love, and a troubled one at that? You can bet it will have a load of humor, fun, and lots of adventure. Will it have a happy ending? Well, what do you think?


What important piece of advice would you give new authors who are just beginning the publishing journey?

Since my own journey has been quite a challenging one, and not one of those super success stories by any means, my best advice would actually not be my own, but advice I received from one of my writer colleagues, author Marie Force. WRITE MORE BOOKS. I’ve two books that are wonderfully written and crafted well, and yes, I’ve earned much recognition – nine awards to date – but until I produce what readers want … more from a particular author they enjoy reading, what have I truly accomplished? Yes, two great books. But unfortunately, in this fast world we live in, more is better. True, that’s quite unfortunate. There is no real or successful marketing without product to give. They like you. They want more. And then some. If it’s not there, readers go elsewhere to find what they are looking for. So, what do you do? You focus on writing. That’s my goal for 2018. Who knows what I’ll come up with if I put my mind to it? Of course, I have to have the confidence, the willpower, and the motivation. That’s the hard part. But it’s obtainable if I believe in me. In the author. So, my advice to you? Believe in YOU. And do what you’ve got to do. Focus on writing. Writing more books. Good books with good titles, and good plot. Write what people want. Get enough of you out there, and you’ll get noticed in the end. Spending a load of money to get yourself recognized isn’t really the key you’re hoping for. Producing more books, though, may be your ticket in creating a dream come true.

Judith Kohnen is the author of One Chance, One Moment and the recently released For the Love of MandyBooks One and Two of The Mandy Story. A nine-time award-winning author, Judith hopes to continue to inspire readers with stories of hope, healing, and entertainment.

Readers can connect with Judith via her website and her Amazon Author Page.


*TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL OFFER*


ENTER THE GIVEAWAY FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THIS GORGEOUS DAVINCI MUSICAL CHARM BRACELET AND A SIGNED PRINT COPY OF FOR THE LOVE OF MANDY





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Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It's time for another book review! I've chosen The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. If you haven't yet read it, I'd highly recommend doing so. If you've seen the movie, I urge you to read the book. There's so much more here than was included in the movie. Well worth the read!



Eleven-year-old Liesel Meminger is a foster child who has recently arrived in a small town outside Munich, Germany during WWII. Liesel has been sent to live with Hans and Rosa Huberman, presumably for the small stipend they’ll receive. Liesel is still suffering from the loss of her little brother and the difficult and somewhat mysterious separation from her mother. She takes an immediate like to Hans, who is kind and thoughtful, but takes much longer to warm up to the abrasive Rosa.

Liesel makes friends with next-door neighbor Rudy and establishes herself as a self-proclaimed book thief. Becoming unlikely friends with the Mayor’s wife Ilsa affords Liesel the opportunity to read the books in the Mayor’s massive library. Along the way, Liesel is witness to the atrocities of war, heartbreaking events, love, loss and other life-changing events.

I saw the movie The Book Thief several years ago and loved it. When I decided it was time to read the book I was absolutely captivated. Although the book is 550 pages long, I read it in just two days – it was THAT good.

The book is different in several ways, ways in which I won’t go into in my review. Suffice it to say that I’m glad I saw the movie first and then read the book. I think I might have been disappointed with the movie version if it had happened in opposite order. This just goes to show how well the author has written this important piece of fictionalized history. The time period, location, mood, characters, etc. come to life as the story unfolds.

I was surprised at some of the other reviews, stating that the book was just plain depressing. I’m not at all sure how a book that deals with the systematic extinction of a race of people can be written about in an uplifting, happy way. Yet, the book is so much more than a story about a German girl who is living in Nazi Germany during WWII. There are many lovely, tender elements to be found in The Book Thief. The additional anniversary edition footnotes written by the author (at the end of the book) provide wonderful insight.

I think it’s extremely important that all generations read books like The Book Thief. This is part of history and, as poet and philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it." This is a book that is emotionally draining, but very much worth the read!


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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Why and How to Put SMART Healthy Living Goals into Action




In the previous Healthy Living Series article, I talked briefly about using the SMART goals technique to begin your fitness journey. In this article, I’ll share what led to my personal fitness journey and the steps I took to achieve the necessary results.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different. We’re all at different places in our fitness journey, in terms of weight, dietary needs and activity levels. What might work for one person, might not work for another. The important thing is to simply BEGIN.

My story…

As mentioned in a previous post, throughout my life, I had always been active and fit. Like most people, as I aged, I found that it took a bit more effort to maintain my ideal weight, but my physically demanding job helped immensely. When I left that job to pursue writing full time I had no clue how that would impact my health.

Suddenly, I was no longer the active person I once was. I sat at the computer for hours at a time. My eating habits changed. Add to the fact that I was fast approaching the age where women really need to be extra careful in terms of health, fitness and nutrition – it was producing the perfect storm.

I’d been experiencing palpitations, rapid heartbeat and even occasional chest and arm pain for several weeks, but I ignored these warnings and hoped they would simply go away. I’d always been a migraine sufferer, but when I woke up one morning with the mother of all migraines I knew something was wrong. My husband took me to the ER, where they ran some tests. It seems they thought I was having a stroke. YIKES.

Fortunately, it was not a stroke, but I was in serious distress. My blood pressure was an alarming 189/110 and had most likely been that high for some time. I’d sustained some damage to my heart. I’d be on medication for the rest of my life. I could very well need heart surgery at some later point. This was my wakeup call.


I was referred to a cardiologist immediately. He was a lifesaver…literally. After some additional tests, he sat me down and explained that it was critical to my health that I make some very serious lifestyle changes. Radical changes were outlined. It wouldn’t be easy, but it could very well save my life.

Although you might not currently be at this crisis stage, and I sincerely hope that you aren’t, you could very well be getting close to it and not even realize it. My goal with this series is to prevent you from getting to that point.


Next time, I’ll begin laying out my plan of action, what I did to achieve my goals, what worked and what didn’t and some other tips and pointers for anyone else who may be finding themselves in a similar health crisis as mine.