Genre: Non-Fiction


Weekend Cooking: Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lose Weight

July 27, 2013 Book Review, reviews 24

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Weekend Cooking: Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lose WeightSlimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lose Weight by Harry Papas
Published by Turner on June, 2012
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 240
Source: complimentary review copy


All my life I have sworn I would never diet.  I don’t like the word, I see it as one of those nasty 4-letter words!  But as many of you know, I have multiple sclerosis and recently I’ve read so much about how the way we eat affects the way we feel { logically, I know that ~ as someone who loves sweets, breads and southern food in general it’s much harder to um, accept}.  However, I’ve given myself a challenge.  I thought for 30 days I would simply *try* to eat healthier – cut out the biscuits, iced caramel macchiatos with 3 pumps of simple syrup, and the sweets.  I told myself that I can do anything for 30 days – it’s really not that long among other pep talks!

So in order to start my new regimen of eating (notice I’m not using that 4-letter word!) I got a couple of books to help me out – Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lose Weight and Everyday Paleo: Real Food for Real Life.

Slimmer, by Harry Papas, begins with “The Slimmer Story” and an explanation of the nutritional plan.  I found Papas descriptive and logical explanation of the plan to be easy to understand with lots of research to back up his recommendations.

Studies continue to show that following a Mediterranean-style diet, which incorporates the traditional foods of the Mediterranean regions of Greece and parts of France and Italy, is beneficial to our health on a number of levels.  From lowering the risk for heart attack and stroke, to warding off cognitive impairment as well as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even obesity, the benefits are numerous and impressive.

What is the Mediterranean nutrition plan and lifestyle and is it doable in our fast-paced, rush rush rush society?  Large family meals at lunch time, afternoon naps, disconnecting from all the electronic devices that seem to have a hold on us, breathing – slow and steady. . .I’ve found that these can be done, with a little bit of tweaking (ok, maybe a lot of tweaking).  Large family meals? We do this at my mum’s on Sundays; afternoon nap? at least on the weekends I can get in an hour, and disconnecting? Well, I do that daily now.  Five minutes. No computer, cell phone, ipod, tv, ipad, anything that has to be plugged in.  During that 5 minutes I’ve found dinosaurs in the clouds, heard the birds serenading the world, and felt the warmth of the sun on my skin and the breeze lifting my hair.  Peace.  That’s what I’ve found in those 5 minutes.  Hey I like this Mediterranean lifestyle!

To go along with simplifying, I’ve chosen the easiest recipes out of Slimmer to try, including the Citrus Glazed Salmon below.  This was so simple, ready in less than 30 minutes and so delicious.  The ingredients were simple to find and most I had on hand anyways.  We just added fresh vegetables in foil to the grill that were also ready in 25 minutes.  Voila! A nutritious, delicious meal in less than 30 minutes!

I’d love to know if you try this recipe and if you cook the salmon on the grill or in the oven.  I imagine its quite tasty in the oven as well.

canstockphoto1521411Citrus Glazed Salmon

For the marinade:

Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 grated orange rind
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste {recipe calls for this but I don’t use salt/pepper – rely on herbs for flavor}


  1. Make the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Place the salmon fillets in a ceramic or glass baking dish and pour marinade over.  Cover & refrigerate for at least 2 hours, occasionally turning the fillets.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  *we grilled the fillets using a cedar plank on the green egg – setting temp to 350 degrees and cooking for about 20 minutes – beyond yummy!*
  4. Remove cover and bake the salmon in the middle of the oven until firm and pink, about 25 minutes.  Occasionally check and move to prevent sticking and to evenly glaze.

Have your eating habits changed with the focus everywhere on Gluten-free, Hormone-free, Organic, Paleo, Atkins, etc. etc.? Do you have a favorite?  Next week I’ll share what I’ve learned in the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook that is different from Mediterranean.  It’s all so confusing but also kind of fun to experiment with!

Weekend Cooking is hosted at Beth Fish  Reads.  For more great recipes and books all about food, please visit her site!

Happy Weekend Lovelies!

Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher for the complimentary review copy.



Book Review: Heart in the Right Place

September 4, 2012 Book Review, reviews 10

Book Review: Heart in the Right PlaceHeart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
Published by Algonquin Books on August 19th, 2008
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble

I picked up Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan on a whim – it was a “guilty pleasure” choice, not a book received with intents for reviewing; simply a book that pulled me in with the cover and decided to purchase purely for my own enjoyment.  Now that I’ve read and loved it ~ I must share with you, my literary friends!

I ended up reading Heart in the Right Place while on a 9-hour drive, my darling boyfriend at the wheel, patiently enduring my giggles and laugh-out-loud moments every few miles.

Part of the appeal with this book was the actual setting, the hills of East Tennessee ~ mining and farming country, simple hard-working country folks; while the other appeal came from the storyline itself ~ country girl works hard, becomes big-shot attorney out to save the world in the hills and halls of Washington D.C. goes home to help out her parents for a couple of days while her mother recuperates from a heart attack.  Carolyn’s parents run the only family practice in the small TN town ~ dad is the town doctor and mom is his receptionist affectionately called by the locals “Sarge.”  Two days turns into two months turns into six. . .Carolyn continuously questions her decision – is she making more of a difference in Washington D.C. working with a panel of attorneys on the Nuclear program for a Congressional Committee or by being the pinch-hitter receptionist in her father’s small-town medical practice.

The humor with which Jourdan uses to survive and even thrive from her thrust back into small-town life was absolutely laugh-out-loud funny.  When Carolyn walks into the hospital where her mother is hooked up to a variety of machines brings out the internal monologue of “Surely no one could die in this modern Frankenstein lab. If anything stopped working, they’d just plug in another machine.  I was scared to see Momma like this.  It wasn’t like her at all.  To tamp down my panic I tried to think of the ICU as a sort of spa.  A really, really expensive spa. For unconscious people.

And probably the life lesson I enjoyed the most was from the good doctor’s best friend, local farmer, and dear to Carolyn: “The pitiful truth is that sometimes the best thing, the only thing, we can do for another person is just show up. We might not know how to do anything for them, but at least we can show up. And that takes guts. But everything takes guts. It takes guts to care about people. But what else are you gonna do?

I honestly do not know how this happened, but would you believe that I did not realize Heart in the Right Place is a memoir until I was reading the author interview at the end of the book.  I was astounded!  and, I have another confession ~ I have avoided memoirs like the plague.  I have never read one that I enjoyed (not that I’ve read that many, but still).

With that said, I must tell you how fantastic this book was.  The people were so real, from the family doctor and the nurse to Carolyn and especially the patients ~ oh my goodness the patients! Many could not pay with cash,  did not have insurance and so they would pay with plants, farm animals, jelly, vegetables from the garden to even one man who paid by showing his herd of goats to the doctor and his daughter.  The camaraderie and love that flourished in the community and surrounded the people visiting the family doctor was palpable.  And once I was finished and found out it was a memoir, the old saying of “you can’t make that stuff up!” rang true.

[Tweet “Heart-warming, happy and humorous! A memoir for everyone!”]

If I could have added anything to Heart in the Right Place, I would have some additional explanation about who a couple of the characters were ~ it’s probably my desire for a happily-ever-after ending where the couple get married and live fulfilling lives deep in the woods ~ but, there really wasn’t a love interest only a few dates.  Give me more, more, my nosy side screams!  Overall, Heart in the Right Place did just that – put my heart in a very happy, good place – I hope it will yours too!

I also did not realize there are two different covers ~ I definitely prefer the goat cover but wondered what you thought: goat cover or chair cover?


Book Review: Please Stop Laughing at Me

December 1, 2010 Book Review, reviews 9

Book Review:  Please Stop Laughing at MePlease Stop Laughing at Me: One Woman's Inspirational Story by Jodee Blanco
Published by Adams Media Corporation on August 17th, 2010
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 304
Source: complimentary review copy

An epidemic is happening in our schools. It seems like every day we hear of another teen or child who has been terrorized, beaten, or worse – murdered, at the hands of a peer.  Bullying has become such an epidemic in the United States that sometimes I wonder – have we become de-sensitized to the damage being done to our children?

Yesterday a 10th-grade student held 24 students hostage in a Wisconsin school.  The hostages were rescued, but tragically, the student turned the gun on himself taking his own life. According to FOX & CNN News, we may never know what led to the circumstances of yesterday’s horror.

Through the woods and down the mountain in my own backyard, Bobby Tillman was stomped, kicked and beaten to death at a party by four other much larger boys.  The supposed reason? A party got out of hand. It was to be a small gathering of about 10 but grew to over 70 people.  When some were asked to leave a fight broke out outside between two males and two females.  When one of the females hit one of the males, he said he wouldn’t hit a woman BUT he would beat the next man who walked by. That young man was 18-year old Bobby Tillman.  The male proceeded along with 3 of his buddies to beat, stomp and kick Bobby Tillman to death….and over 50 bystanders stood by and allowed it to happen.

It was terrible, and so many people watched it like it was a sport. I keep seeing it over and over,” she said. “The saddest part to me is that no one helped. I wish I could have gotten home earlier and that my lights would have scared them. Kizzy Powell, next door neighbor, The Associated Press

The four teenagers have been charged with murder.

If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time you know I have three teenagers. Helping to build an awareness and share information about bullying is of paramount concern to me.

That’s why when I was given the chance to review Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodee Blanco, I welcomed the opportunity.  When I began reading Please Stop Laughing at Me I thought I was reading a page out of my diary….had I gone to my 20 year high school reunion. (I was still not ready to face them after 20 years).  These first lines read like  dialogue I would have with myself:

This is crazy. Why am I afraid? I’m behaving as if this is my first black-tie affair.  Hell, I’ve hosted parties for heads of state. Not only do I often mingle and make interesting conversation with some truly important people, but I am frequently in charge of those events and under pressure to ensure that every detail goes smoothly……Yet, here I am, sitting in a rental care in a hotel parking lot in suburban Chicago where I grew up, scared to go to a party in my own hometown. I’m being ridiculous. It’s just a high school reunion. They can’t hurt me anymore.

Ms. Blanco bares her childhood soul in this book; revealing the scars roughly healed left from years and years of being the victim of bullying.  Ms. Blanco shares how she went from being one of the most popular children in her small grade school, having several friends and always someone to sit with at lunch to being shunned by her closest friends in fifth grade.  This grows into a horrible, almost traumatic experience for the young Jodee as it continues until she has to change schools. As soon as the young Jodee makes a friend or appears to be doing a bit better socially in school another bully slaps her down either literally or figuratively.  Please Stop Laughing at Me carries us through Ms. Blanco’s journey through her school career and what she has learned about bullying then and since.

Favorite Quotes:
Jodee’s grandmother moved in with them while she was growing up and became a treasured gem – when Jodee is deciding whether to continue trying to fit in her 9th grade year or trust her own instincts, values and beliefs she goes to her grandmother for advice. Her grandmother offers this sage advice:

Jodee, you can overcome sadness, loneliness, even terrible loss. But guilt goes with you to the grave. (p. 113)

Jodee shares some thoughts at the end of her 11th grade year:

I’ve been blessed. Despite getting knocked down so many times, God keeps putting people in my corner at just the right time who give me the courage and strength to come out for one more round. Often, the opponent isn’t another fighter, but my own self-doubt. (p. 212)

When you’re a victim of any kind of abuse, you can do one of two things. You can learn how to turn your pain into purpose and make a difference in the world, or you can allow it to extinguish the light inside you. (p. 213)

One of things Ms. Blanco credits her parents in helping her through the school-age years is they signed her up in a theater production group in a different city outside the circle of students who would bully Jodee.This helped build her self-esteem and allowed her to see that she was good at something.

Please Stop Laughing at Me reads with the ease of a fiction novel, but rather, it is filled with critical information about bullying.  Parents should buy this book when their child enters grade school; teachers of all grades should definitely read it – anyone who works with youth, this is a must read. What would really be a beautiful thing is if every high school student read this book, heard Ms. Blanco speak, and had an entire class devoted to anti-bullying and leadership development.

Sites of Interest:   It’s NOT Just Joking Around! | Jodee’s Blog  |

many thanks to fsb media for the complimentary review copy