6/25/19

Top Tips for Decluttering Your Home


Do you find that your home is feeling smaller than it really is? It can be easy to have a build up of personal belongings over the years, especially when you have a large family that includes a lot of kids. You have a large stock of toys, clothing and old electronics in your home.

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The good news is that it is possible to declutter your home and get it back to where you want it to be. Here, we are going to give you some tips to help you achieve this. Keep reading to find out more. 

Try Room By Room
When you look at your home as a whole, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you throw out only a few items from each room, it can appear that nothing is really changing. This is why we suggest you do your decluttering from room to room. Spend some time in each room going through all of your belongings and figure out what can go and what needs to stay. 

Invest In Junk Removal
Do you have a lot of old electronics like computers and mobile phones in your home that you don’t need anymore? It can be easy to hold onto these things when you can’t just simply put them in the trash, but they can build up over time and make your home more cluttered. To combat this, we suggest that you get in touch with 1-800-GOT-JUNK, who can remove your junk quickly and safely. 

Be Ruthless
One of the biggest problems when it comes to trying to declutter your home is figuring out what you need and what you want to keep. Many people hoard things from their childhood and keep them as mementos. While this can be nice, it can become too hard to handle over time and you won’t be able to throw anything out. This is why we suggest that you try to be ruthless. Throw things out that you haven’t looked at in the past 10 years because it is likely that you won’t find it until next time you try to declutter. 

Get Your Kids To Help
Our final tip for those who want to declutter their home is to try to get your kids to help. You might be reluctant to throw some of your kids items out but with their help, you can figure out what needs to stay and what they don’t mind getting rid of. With more hands, you can get the job done quickly and get back on track with your mess-free home. 

Conclusion
If you want to declutter your home, then you should make sure to take on board the advice that we have given you here in this article. Try junk removal and make sure that you are ruthless when it comes to deciding what stays and what goes. This way, your home will be decluttered and will appear much bigger.

The Storyteller's Secret Book Review & Book Tour Giveaway


This morning, I am excited to share a women's fiction novel in our book review spotlight.  What did I think of The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani?  Read my thoughts, learn about the novel and the author & enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.


Book Title: The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani
Category: Adult Fiction, 399 pages
Genre: Literary
Content Rating: PG-13 (There are some non-explicit sex scenes)

About the Book

An Amazon Charts, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller!

From the bestselling author of Trail of Broken Wings comes an epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.

Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past. Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation.

​Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.

My Review
The Storyteller's Secret Shares a Romantic Story With Heartbreak and Hope.  The author creates a storyline that crosses cultures, continents, and time to tell a story of heartbreak, tragedy, love, and hope.  I am not generally a fan of romance novels because they often play out predictably and unrealistically.  While the author works to create a story with historical and cultural significance--the book is a reasonably predictable romance novel that plays on common themes and characters.  Readers will find a rather dark tale which the author dots with hopeful events--and a "secret" that comes to light fairly early in the book.

The Characters Make The Storyteller's Secret Worthy.  I found the storyline predictable--but, I did enjoy some of the characters and their stories.  There are several characters introduced throughout the novel--and some seem to have little to no bearing on the story.  However, I truly enjoyed Ravi's character and Amisha's story. 

Would I Recommend The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani?   It took some time for me to settle into the story and the author's writing style.  I have never been to India--but, I have read many novels sharing glimpses into the culture and the treatment of women within it.  This novel tells a story with many similarities to other fictional accounts that I have read. Fans of romance novels and women's  fiction should enjoy this book.  The story isn't a complex one and readers will find few surprises (or deep secrets)--but, it is an enjoyable journey crossing cultures and time to create a love (and life) story with hope shining through the darkness.   

To read more reviews, please visit Sejal Badani's page on iRead Book Tours.


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Meet the Author


​A former attorney, Sejal Badani left the law to pursue writing full time.

She is a USA Today, Washington Post & Amazon Charts bestselling author, Goodreads Fiction Award Finalist and ABC/DISNEY Writing Fellowship Finalist.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ​~ Pinterest Instagram


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Ends July 20, 2019


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6/22/19

Keeping Messy Kid Closets Organized


Studies show that mess causes stress. A significant percentage of people feel anxious when they are in a messy room. Well, that said, there is something that most parents have a tough time dealing with: messy kids’ closets. Kids have many clothes, toys and accessories, which are hard to keep organized.
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Messy closets can make a room less desirable to spend time in. Also, disorganized spaces can be frustrating, you can attest to how difficult it is to find things in a room full of clutter. It is for this reason that you need to consider doing a closet organization for your kids from time to time. On top of enhancing the appearance of their rooms, it will also be easy to locate items.

Kids’ Closet Organization Tips

Arranging a closet only for it to be disorganized two days after putting in all that work can be discouraging. Here are all the tips that you need to keep your little one’s room organized and ensuring it remains that way.

1.  Lead by Example
This is where it all starts! Parents are usually responsible for setting habits. If you are organized, your kids are likely to follow in your footsteps. Before you start doing anything, you need to set the right tone and example. You cannot be preaching water and drinking wine. Start by putting your things in order, then teach your children to do the same.

Failure to do so will only give your child a reason to stay disorganized and will make no effort in changing that. 

2.  Empty Everything
It is always advisable to start from scratch. This is to ensure that once you kick off with closet organization, there will be no looking back. It is a way to ensure that you have a clue about every item that is in the closet and where it has been placed. Note that, one of the reasons that lead to messy rooms is trying to find something while in a hurry: you end up throwing everything everywhere trying to locate a single item.

While doing so, categorize different items. Pile up the toys together and do the same for different types of clothes. 

3.  Allow your Child to Participate
Closet organization and maintaining the status quo is all about setting habits. How? If your child takes part in this, he or she will be able to come to terms with the importance of keeping their belongings organized and what it takes to keep them in order.

Also, by doing so, it will be easy for you to get rid of the clutter and toys that your child does not use without them sulking. You can ask them to consider giving them away if they are no longer interested in them. At the end of it all, you will be left with enough space for the essential items. Letting your children take ownership of their space will go a long way in making them responsible when it comes to managing it. 
 
4.  Make the Space Kid Friendly
One of the reasons why it is hard to keep your child’s closet organized is because it is not often designed for them. If they can’t reach certain spaces, they are likely to pile up items everywhere. Closet organization for kids is always easier if there is some sort of compartmentalization. You can use different boxes to store various items like toys and books before stacking them in the closet. Hangers will also come in handy as they will allow them to hang their clothes easily. Hooks too can be used for accessories like hats and bags.

The best thing to do would be to ensure that there is enough space for your child to keep his or her belongings. You can do that by getting rid of clutter and using innovative closet designs that maximize the space available.

5.  Emphasize on Maintenance
You have stored the items vertically to maximize space, and your closet organization turned out to be successful. There is one more thing that remains: maintenance. This is everything, and all your focus should be directed here. Cleaning a room is one thing, and keeping it that way is another.

Once everything is in place, it is time for you to make your child understand the importance of keeping their closet organized. Do not wait until everything falls apart for you to start the organization process all over again. Teach your kids to put things away. Visit their rooms from time to time and encourage them to put things where they belong.

Being organized is all about setting habits. Once your kids understand that they need to be orderly, they will never forget, and it will be effortless. Bumping into toys and clothes on the floor the moment you step into their room, will be a thing of the past. The good news is that staying organized is easier than most people think. Use the tips above, and your child’s closet will never be associated with any mess!

6/18/19

Eternally Artemisia Book Review & Book Tour Giveaway


This morning, we have another wonderful book to share from author Melissa Muldoon.  We reviewed Dreaming Sopia a few years ago--and I was excited to read and review Eternally Artemisia!  What did I think of Eternally Artemisia?  Read my thoughts, learn about the author & enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.


Book Title: Eternally Artemisia : Some loves, like some women, are timeless by Melissa Muldoon
Category: Adult Fiction (18+), 312 pages
Genre: Fiction General, Fiction Women
Publisher: Matta Press

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my review. 
All opinions are my own.

About the Book
They say some loves travel through time and are fated to meet over and over again. For Maddie, an art therapist, who wrestles with the “peculiar feeling” she has lived previous lives and is being called to Italy by voices that have left imprints on her soul, this idea is intriguing. Despite her best efforts, however, proof of this has always eluded her. That is, until one illuminating summer in Italy when Maddie’s previous existences start to bleed through into her current reality. When she is introduced to the Crociani family—a noble clan with ties to the seventeenth-century Medici court that boasts of ancestors with colorful pasts—she finally meets the loves of her life. One is a romantic love, and another is a special kind of passion that only women share, strong amongst those who have suffered greatly yet have triumphed despite it.

As Maddie's relationship develops with Artemisia Gentileschi—an artist who in a time when it was unheard of to denounce a man for the crime of rape, did just that—Maddie discovers a kindred spirit and a role model, and just what women are capable of when united together.

In a journey that arcs back to biblical days and moves forward in time, Maddie encounters artists, dukes, designers, and movie stars as well as baser and ignoble men. With Artemisia never far from her side, she proves that when we dare to take control of our lives and find the “thing” we are most passionate about, we are limitless and can touch the stars.

Content Rating: PG-13 + M
The themes of the book deal with rape and overcoming sexual abuse. It is a book about female empowerment and how with the right tools, and support women may rise above past tragedies to build a better future for themselves.

Praise for Eternally Artemisia:

“A true Renaissance woman, Melissa Muldoon weaves her passions for art and Italy into a stirring saga that sweeps across centuries. As her time-traveling heroine Maddie reconnects with kindred souls, we meet Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17th-century artist who overcame rape and ignominy to gain respect and acclaim. Historic figures such as Galileo and Mussolini also come to life in this intricately plotted novel, but the women who defy all constraints to take control of their destinies are the ones who prove to be eternally fascinating.” -- Dianne Hales

What a lovely story! Melissa weaves the lives of 4 women across time, all with some connection to Artemisia Gentileschi, a 16th century Italy painter. They represent the feminine strength that arises from life challenges, each with their unique intelligence. Underlying their stories is the idea that love transcends all, even time, love is timeless. As with her other books, Melissa fills the story out with interesting facts and references to the Italian life, culture and it's history, her attention to detail is immaculate . I loved all of the many connections in this story that tied it all together, very cleverly done. Wonderful read, I would highly recommend it. – Lize, Amazon Reviewer

Melissa Muldoon does a phenomenal job blending fiction, romance, art history, and the Italian language into this gem. For fans of historical fiction, romance, and time travel, I strongly recommend this novel. –Exemplary Editing, Amazon Review


My Review
Eternally Artemisia offers readers another glimpse into Italy.   The author does a fantastic job weaving Italy's history, art, and culture into her storyline.  As Maddie navigates her present, builds her future and learns from her past (and strengthens her connections to her past lives), readers will explore the beauty, the darkness, and the streets of Italy.  As the author makes references to historical figures, artists, and daily life--the author educates and encourages a love for Italian life and culture.

Eternally Artemisia transports readers to another time and place.  I love the author's writing style.  She creates a very modern story to inspire readers--while weaving time travel and imaginary events with realism and historical details.  The characters in this novel face challenges and struggles as they find their strength and destinies.  Readers will find an inspirational journey that spans time, continents, and cultures.

Would I recommend Eternally Artemisia by Melissa Muldoon?  Eternally Artemisia was another wonderfully written novel by Melissa Muldoon. The characters are strong and beautifully developed and connected across time in a way that flows well through the mystery and plot twists.  This novel is a must read for historical fiction fans who enjoy an imaginative adventure as they explore new lands and past times. 


To read more reviews, please visit Melissa Muldoon's page on Italy Book Tours.


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Meet the Author

 
Melissa Muldoon is the author of three novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia,” “Waking Isabella,” and “Eternally Artemisia.” All three books tell the stories of American women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future in Italy.

Melissa is also the author of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English (studentessamatta.com). Studentessa Matta means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include a podcast, Tutti Matti per l'Italiano and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy. Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all three of her books. Melissa is also the managing director of Matta Press. As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again, but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event. Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency—a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways. Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Eternally Artemisia, Waking Isabella, and Dreaming Sophia.

She also curates the Dreaming Sophia Art History blog site and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy, where you will find companion pictures for all three books. Visit MelissaMuldoon.com for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.

​Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Ends July 5, 2019




6/14/19

Fostering Love-Distance Love


No matter why you’re apart, it is not easy to be away from the one you love. Long distance relationships are hard work, but when you both fight to keep the spark alive they are not impossible. Here are some creative ways to do that.


Order Food for Your Mate

Restaurant orders for delivery are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Having the foods from your favorite eateries delivered right to your door is so convenient; you don’t even have to put on pants! Surprise your mate by ordering them their number one meal from their preferred restaurant. Learn more about home-delivery from your favorite restaurants if you’re curious.

Send a Care Package

Put together a box to send to your partner containing favorites like local delicacies and small trinkets. Not sure what kind of things to include?
  • Jams, jellies or preserves from the farmer’s market
  • A newspaper from your town
  • Bar or restaurant coasters
  • Postcards featuring landmarks

Communicate Daily

This doesn’t mean spend three hours talking every single day; rather, call or text your mate “good morning” and “good night” every day. Send texts throughout the day and updates about your life, even if you think they’re trivial things. It’s the little things that your mate loves about you; they want to know about your dentist appointment or how your meeting with your boss went.
On the other hand, try not to overdo communication. You don’t talk to your partner every moment of every day when you’re together, so extend the same courtesy when you’re living apart. Trying to have long conversations every day can become daunting if you have nothing new to report, and sometimes days pass without anything exciting happening. It’s okay to admit that and go a day without talking on the phone for an hour.

FaceTime or Skype

Make it a point to have face-to-face conversations throughout the week. It can be easy to lose track in the busyness of day-to-day life, especially life apart, but it is so important. Try to set aside at least two days out of the week to FaceTime or Skype and treat them as you would any other date. Living separate lives right now does not mean that time together is any less important, even if it’s digital time.
If you and your mate are meant to be, no obstacle will stand in the way of your love. Long-distance relationships are hard work and require lots of nurturing, but all the hard work is worth it when you can finally fall asleep in each other’s arms.

6/11/19

Burton Blake Book Review & Giveaway


Recently, I shared my review of historical fiction novel The Revolutionist by Robert Tucker--and I loved that novel. This morning, I have the opportunity to share another historical fiction novel, Burton Blake, from the author's series. What did I think of Burton Blake by Robert Tucker? Read my thoughts, learn about the author and the series and enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.

Book Title: Burton Blake by Robert Tucker
Category: Adult Fiction, 518 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author or publisher for use in this review.
All opinions are my own.

About the Book

In this sequel to the well-received The Revolutionist, the American journey of three generations locks the neophyte company president, Burton Blake, in a vicious struggle with corporate intrigue, financial greed, and social corruption. Born to a taxi dancer at the beginning of the Second World War, Burton’s father, Elias Blake, never knows his natural father, who is killed in the South Pacific. He is raised by his mother and stepfather from her second marriage who makes his fortune during the post-war real estate boom of the ’50s. Their untimely death by his business partner leaves the boy Elias in the guardianship of his mother’s best friend and her marine vet husband who introduces him to the macho culture of guns and hunting.

Elias’s youth is influenced by the adult world’s drive for personal material gain. Over the next decades, he expands his parents’ original real estate empire into the diversified multi-divisional, multi-national corporation that he leaves to his son, Burton. Upon his forced return from traveling and working with oppressed third world people, Burton learns increasingly more about the true nature of his deceased father as he undertakes the challenges of leading the company in a new direction.

My Review

Burton Blake is an Engaging Read from Start to Finish.   While the author did not catch my interest immediately with Burton Blake as he did in The Revolutionist--his writing style won me over quickly and held my attention through to the end.  Although Burton Blake is a sequel to The Revolutionist, readers could certainly read it as a stand-alone novel without feeling lost or confused--and readers of the first book won't feel that the story rehashes the first book.  The author creates a very detailed, intricate storyline that is both well researched and entertaining for readers.  In spite of the length, the novel flows smoothly and is an easy read with just enough twists, turns and mystery to keep the reader turning the pages.

Characters and Setting Transport Readers to Another Time and Place.  Tucker creates another very realistic storyline around his cast of good vs. evil characters that engages readers and draws them deeper into every scene.  His characters face challenges and dilemmas--and the author keeps them true to nature as the plot resolves.  Sometimes historical fiction can be a little drawn out and dry as authors set the stage and develop their characters for a new generation of readers.  Burton Blake is not that kind of historical fiction.  The author does a beautiful job setting his scenes within the time period and creating plot twists and dialogue that are both historically placed--but, relatable for the modern reader.

Would I recommend Burton Blake by Robert Tucker?  Much like the Revolutionist, I loved this book, I loved the characters, and I loved the author's writing style.  Burton Blake is another action-packed, historically placed novel that will appeal to readers who enjoy a blend of themes within a story.  I would recommend reading the series as a series--simply because both books were excellent for historical fiction and suspense fans. 


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Meet the Author


 
​Robert is published by Tell-Tale Publishing Group LLC / Wise Words Publishing under a multi-book contract. The author of four previous earlier novels, Robert infuses his books with unique dynamic stories and characters that portray social and cultural conflicts of their time. His career encompasses many years as a business consultant that have given him access to a wide range of organizations and an appreciation for people in all areas of society. His life experience is reflected in the literary quality of his work. Born and raised in the Middle-West, he has traveled throughout the United States and abroad.

Now retired, he resides with his wife in Southern California where he devotes full-time to writing. Robert is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Masters Degree in Communications at the University of California, Los Angeles where he received the Samuel Goldwyn and Donald Davis Literary Awards.

An affinity for family and the astute observation of generational interaction pervade his novels. His works are literary and genre upmarket fiction that address the nature and importance of personal integrity.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 5, 2019