Gift some fun and educational books from National Geographic Kids this holiday season


Are you still looking for gifts for your child?

I know that many parents try and get the “it” toys of the season for their child (or grandchild). That is fine and all, but there is a type of gift that is ideal for gift giving, whether it’s for the holidays, a birthday, or “just because” – BOOKS!

When I was a child I LOVED books. I could not get enough of them. I loved receiving books as a gift. I amassed a nice collection of books, many of which I still have. I kept a lot of my favorite books from my youth to share with my own children, and someday, my future grandchildren.

I loved to read all types of books – fiction, non-fiction, horror, comedy, drama, book series – you name it. I even enjoyed reading educational books. One of my favorite types of books to read were encyclopedias. I know that might sound a bit unusual, but I honestly enjoyed it.

Educational books are not boring. It just depends in the book that you read. Take for example National Geographic Kids books. I have been a fan of their books for many years. Not only are they filled with a lot of great information and facts about just about everything on Earth (and even space), but they are also filled with a lot of great facts.

I’m a smart person. I do very well when we watch Jeporady. That is because I know a little bit about a lot of things. Many National Geographic Kids books are a great way to let your child learn a little bit about a lot of things (that is a GOOD thing).

If you are considering gifting a child books this holiday season, here are some suggestions from National Geographic and National Geographic Kids.

I was sent a few of these books to review.

Nerd A to Z: Your Reference to Literally Figuratively Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know (ages 8-12, $14.99)

“You don’t have to be a nerd to be captivated by this combination of Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and short form encyclopedia…..the info blurbs are fun to know and in many instances educational.  A bushel of inviting, idiosyncratic subjects” – Kirkus

“VERDICT A treat for visually oriented and information-hungry browsers.” – School Library Journal

This super-stuffed alphabetical compendium of must-know facts from science, pop culture, history, and more is perfect for kids who already know the names of every single dinosaur or want to understand exactly how the Millennium Falcon works. It’s a book for grammar gurus, science snobs, music geeks, and history buffs. In short, it’s a book for nerds. Inside, you’ll find browsable, info-packed blurbs that’ll give you the lowdown on everything from augmented reality to zydeco, with larger features that dive deep into fascinating topics like UFOs, pirates, artificial intelligence, and daring circus acts. And you’ll hear from the world’s most notable (and quotable) Nerds of Note from history and today.

As I mentioned earlier, I know a lot about a lot of things. This book is the prime example of ways your child can be the same way.

This book covers a huge assortment of topics on just about everything you can possibly think of.

There are even fun tests you can take to find out what kind of “nerd” you really are.

I’m an adult, and I found this book extremely interesting. I learned a lot from it myself.

The book is filled with colorful photos and illustrations that bring this book to life.

The Book of Bling: Ritzy Rocks, Extravagant Animals, Sparkling Science and More! (ages 8-12, $19.99)

“Bling is all around us,” the author writes. Maybe so…but rarely is the razzle-dazzle this cranked up. Should come with a cautionary note: sunglasses a must!” – Kirkus

From upscale splurges to flashy fun in nature, this treasure trove is filled with wonders that will dazzle and delight. Read about how nature struts its stuff with tantalizing tidbits about animals, including a few that literally glitter with iridescence to confuse predators. Or maybe you’ll strike it rich after reading about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, U.S.A., where anyone can go hunt for sparkling gems. Dig into info about the world’s mysterious minerals, gorgeous geodes, and ritzy rocks. Discover extravagant expenditures like Canada’s million-dollar solid gold coin. Learn all about the splendid science of diamonds that rain from the sky in space. Get the secret behind glowing bio-luminescence. And go back in time to uncover palatial palaces, the riches of royalty, and other ancient treasures. To show off the lush content in proper fashion, readers will be dazzled by hundreds of fun flashy photos throughout.

This is a fun book about everything that glitters, shines and costs $$$.

I love the sections on the world’s richest animals, as well as the section on “cursed” jewelry that you should never touch. The section on gems and jewelry is pretty extensive.

The cat, “Grumpy Cat,” made it into the book as one of the world’s richest animals.

I like that angle this book takes. Would would have thought about writing a book all about rich, fancy, sparkly things around the world.

Treasury of Bible Stories written by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit (ages 8-12, HC, $24.99)

“Napoli brings her literary eye to yet another ancient tradition.  Balit’s bold illustrations accompany each tale and feature a diversity of skin tone that reflects the many lands from northeast Africa to the Middle East where the drama unfolds… Sidebars throughout add historical and scientific context to the stories presented while backmatter includes maps, timelines, and brief biographies of the major players. A worthy cultural treasury with appeal to both the faithful and irreligious.” — Kirkus

Noah’s Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, the ten plagues, Daniel and the lions’ den, Jonah and the giant fish, and many more of the Bible’s most powerful stories — 27 in all — are compellingly retold in this beautifully illustrated treasury. Readers will be fascinated by the ancient people and events they encounter, surprised by some of the lesser known accounts revealed, and inspired by the lessons these tales impart. Stories cover important ground beyond religion, such as culture, history, and geography, and they touch on issues that remain relevant today–faith, loyalty, kindness, violence, generosity, greed, jealousy, and more. These accessible, readible stories give kids a rich picture of biblical times, which encourages them to think about our role in the world and to learn more.

Dream Journal by Dr. Allan Peterkin (ages 8-12, $12.99 )

This stocking stuffer is what dreams are made of — literally!  Professor of Psychiatry Dr.Allan Peterkin helps readers uncover the power of their dreams and better understand the science of sleep. With lively text, vibrant imagery, and plenty of space for writing, it’s the perfect tool to help kids remember, record, and reflect on their nighttime adventures.  Catching Z’s has never been so much fun!

Brain Candy: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity – (ages 8-12, $8.99)

This offbeat, “stocking-sized” book is like a sweet treat that will satisfy any reader’s fun fact cravings. Cranium “cavities” will be filled to the brim with 500 fascinating knowledge nuggets about numbers, fun facts, and cool trivia on all kinds of topics.  With features that dive into why potatoes and tomatoes are a dynamic duo, amazing animal tongues and how they are used to ”lick” their competition and dental care through the ages, Brain Candy is a tasty approach to feeding kids tantalizing tidbits about the world.

This is another fascinating book filled with interesting facts.

I like how the facts are grouped by subject, such as size, heat, speed, numbers and more.

As with all National Geographic books, this book is overflowing with interesting and useful information, as well as beautiful, colorful photos and illustrations.

Any of these books would make a great gift for that special child in your life. To be honest, I think even grown-ups would appreciate these awesome books.

You can find these great books and more on the Shop National Geographic website. You can also find these books at book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Does your child/grandchild own any National Geographic and/or National Geographic Kids books?

Do you think your child/grandchild would like any of the books mentioned above? If so, which one(s)?


*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Confidence Boosters For All


It is perfectly natural to go through a low period where you feel less than tip-top. Life tends to throw obstacles in the way, and over time, if you do not correctly deal with them, this could lead to a mini-depression or merely a sense of low self-worth. When this happens to you, you need to remember that most people, if not all people suffer from hard times at some point, but luckily that also means that there are many tried and tested ways to build your self-esteem back up and get you feeling like your old self again:

Identify the negatives 

We all do things that are not good for our health. Whether it’s spending too much time on social media comparing our lives to the highlights offered by fake friends, or smoking, or drinking too much alcohol. There is always something that can be identified as detrimental to mental and physical health. So, it may be worth your while creating a list of things that you know you should cut out. Next to this, you could make a parallel list of possible solutions, like visiting a drug addiction treatment center, for example. If you can identify what’s wrong, you can work on fixing it.

Exchange the negatives with positives

What is it that you could do that would make yourself happy? Is it changing a negative mindset? Simply swapping bad internal talk for good inner talk, by becoming aware of your thoughts, by being more mindful. So, basically, the moral is, be kinder to yourself to change your outlook on yourself. Don’t dwell on mistakes, as we all make them, learn from them and move forward armed with the knowledge of experience. In addition, is there something you have always wanted to do with your life, some skill you wish to learn or enhance? Maybe you have always wanted to write poetry, well, why not join a local creative writing class. Not only will you learn something, but you will also meet new like-minded people. If you spend time improving yourself in the way you want, then you will find you have more confidence in your daily life.


Stop making excuses for not putting on those running shoes and just go out there and do it. You need to do some exercise every day to lose weight, feel better and become more confident. Once you get the exercise bug, you will find it easy to fit it into your daily routine. As with anything new, it’s only challenging to begin with.


Embrace change, don’t fear it. Often people do whatever it takes not to change and will actually fight against it, but really change is what they need, and it can be good for the heart and soul. It has the power to give you a brand new outlook and can open your mind to things you never thought you could think or do. Do something that scares you, like a skydive. You only live once. You do not want to regret never having lived.

Starting A Home-Based Fashion Business Is Not Like Climbing A Mountain


A clothing business can be just about supplying all kinds of clothes for the average consumer, or it can be a very personal journey. It’s one of the most complex yet visually rewarding types of business in the world. You’re actually seeing people wear and share your products. Unlike other industries, your products will have an immediate effect on the culture of your nation and hopefully, the world. It’s not like a kitchen appliance like a blender, which you will never see being used. It’s not even like a banking app that may be used in public but the collective will never show it in unison. A fashion brand is visual, it’s able to be seen in the rest of the world. But do you need to hitch your wagon to a fashion brand? Do you need to beg and plead for the partnership of a multinational clothing line? No! You don’t have to do anything except being motivated to start your own fashion brand from home. You’ll need multiple skills but you can outsource much of your work. Be prepared to do a lot of business administration but never take your eye off the ball when it comes to the end product. 


Who are you?

The single most important question you need to ask yourself, is who are you? Clothes are incredibly expressive. They capture a mood, a feeling, a movement and a cultural phenomenon all in one. It’s vital that you’re able to decipher who you are into your clothing brand. In other words, what’s your niche? What kind of things are you interested in and how do they apply to your business? Maybe you would like to make a brand that captivates your personality in color schemes. Maybe you have always wanted to wear clothing that was a little more practical. It could even be that you want to design clothes for your body type and give women a similar figure more options. 

You need not follow the conventional route either. Maybe you don’t want to make clothes for women, perhaps you want to make clothes for men, babies or even pets. What inspires you? Look deep within yourself to find out why you want to start a fashion brand. The biggest concern for new brands is, not having a consistent and fully evolved narrative. So many young brands fade away because they set the tone and then don’t follow through on it. Knowing who you are, why you’re doing this and what kinds of designs you will have, will give your narrative firm grounding. In other words, you’ll find a niche and have enough substance to stick to it.


A budget justifies a plan

A business plan has to be costed. In other words, your plan is only valid when you have the funds to implement it. If you cannot financially justify your business plan, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Hence, you must value your budget over your plan. It’s difficult to accept this because your vision might be bigger than your bank account. On the other hand, Rome was not built in one day. You must start modest, and then slowly work your way up. Look on the bright side, you won’t become sidetracked and squander your money on things that cannot be fully developed. Instead, focus on what you need to begin. 

What is your budget for materials? How much are you willing to pay independent textile workers or factories? Will you save any money by doing things at home, such as sewing? What is your budget for marketing? Creating a budget will help you realize which constrains you. When you know what you can’t do, you’re better able to focus on the things that you can do. 


What’s the financial upside?

A business plan is something that can be long-winded or kept short and sweet. Some of the biggest businesses in the world started off with a business plan that only took into consideration, what the first year would be like. However, the financial upsides are perhaps the brightest candle on the cake In essence, what will the profits be for the first year? Many business plans openly admit that the cost of starting the business will mean that you will either lose money or just about break even. Many business plans will only claim profits in the 3rd or 4th year. This is why many small businesses die out before the fifth year even ends. They bit off more than they can chew and decided to walk before they could crawl. 

The return on investment (ROI) is the most important factor. For the amount of money you put into the business, what kinds of returns will you see for each financial quarter? The common line is, you’ll break even for the first two financial quarters and then make a profit during the festive season in the final 6 months. Adaptive production of your products is, therefore, highly crucial for your success. The more products you order from a manufacturing facility, the lower the overall costs will be. Thus, can you make more money by increasing prices during seasonal times together with lower material and production costs?


Laying the foundations of infrastructure

Every business has to have a solid internal foundation. Without proper infrastructure, your actions will be scattered and far from organized. Hence why you should immediately look for an IT Support Partner who can work on IT problems within 10 minutes of the error or fault occurring. No matter what kind of software for task management, inventory management or invoice payment you’re using, an IT support company is vital for making sure everything runs as expected. They will keep an eye out for all kinds of updates and patches for the software you’re using. They’ll also work with you, to improve the efficiency of the programs your business currently utilizes. 

Then you must consider what the building blocks for your infrastructure will be. Will you use Microsoft Office Suite? Adobe software packages? Perhaps you’ll want to integrate most of your office by using G Suite. It’s vital that you have a software infrastructure than can link all your departments and or areas of the business. Marketing should be linked with design, your manufacturing should be linked with logistics and your accounting should be linked back to your financial plan. When you have this level of integration, you can swap and compare the information of all kinds quickly and clearly.


Sourcing the materials

When you’ve completed your infrastructure design, sourcing materials is your next job. It’s not going to be a tough task because you will have a range of domestic suppliers to choose from. That’s the thing about the fashion industry, there is never a shortage of options for materials. Unlike the metal industry that might suffer from this, the choice of quality materials is never a big concern. Whether your business is in the UK, US or France, to name a few, you’ll never have to worry about the overall quality of materials like cotton, wool, leather, etc. However, it’s the pricing and contracts that are the difficult part to nail down. 

It’s in your best interest to attend an industry event to see what kind of options you have. Bring a simple pen and pad, to write down all the details you require. For each category what kind of materials do you need? For cotton, what kind of quality are you looking for and how much? What’s the price of cotton fabric per square meter? Will you be using synthetic materials? Would it be best to go to a synthetic textile plant or a trade show? Synthetics are of a lower quality to wool and cotton, but if they’re the mainstay of your products then you should inspect the material face-to-face. 

Styling and outsourcing

Bear in mind, most of your business will be home-based. So you need to be sure that you’re able to design and create your clothes. Every fashion brand will run into the challenge of designing, cutting, fitting and sizing for the general consumer. Thus, you must style your products in a way that will fit the national small, medium and large size categories. It’s best to hire an artist to draw the designs of your clothes as well as a fashion adviser that can label the materials used and the inspiration behind the design. 

Outsourcing from home has never been as easy as it is these days. However, you must be willing to meet your production company in person. There are lots of pros and cons of outsourcing in the fashion industry. The main thing you need to watch out for is communication problems. When something goes wrong, you need a relationship with the company so you can effectively communicate with them to correct errors. 

Becoming a home-based fashion brand is not easy but it’s not as high a mountain as it once was. There used to be a time when you had to go to fashion and or design school to work in the industry. These days, however, with good infrastructure, a great plan, and costed budget, all you need to focus on is design and production. 

Movie Review: The Kitchen – Available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital


Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and on Digital is the crime drama, The Kitchen. 

The Kitchen stars Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, and Common, to name a few.

To be honest, I was surprised to see McCarthy and Haddish in a crime drama. I know they’ve done dramas, but I’m used to seeing them in comedies.

The film takes place in the late 70’s in an area of New York City known as “Hell’s Kitchen.”

McCarthy plays Kathy Brennan is married to a member of the Irish mob named Jimmy. Haddish plays Ruby O’Carroll, who is married to a man named Kevin, who is also part of the Irish mob. Lastly we have Moss, who plays Claire Walsh, who is married to an abusive man named Rob.

One night, all three husband’s are captured by the FBI and sentenced to prison. As a result, a man named “Little Jackie,” becomes the head of the Irish mob. He offers to help take care of the women while their husband’s are incarcerated, but what he provides is not enough for them to live on.

The three women find out that many of the local businesses are not happy with “Little Jackie,” so they start collecting collection fees and helping out the neighborhood. They start to turn a profit.

“Little Jackie” finds out about their arrangements and goes after them, but he is taken care of by a former Irish mob enforcer.

Now that “Little Jackie” is out of the way, the women take charge over the neighborhood.

When the Italian mafia finds out about the women and what they are doing in their neighborhood (and the profit they are making as a result), the head of the mafia, Alfonso Coretti, offers to make a deal with them, using getting their husband’s released from prison as part of it. Coretti offers to support the women, and give them mover of the city to control, if they make a deal with him.

Their husband’s do get released, but things are not for the better. In fact, everything they worked so hard on accomplishing starts to unravel. There is even a contract out on their heads by members of their own gang.

Will the wives go back to their old lives and let their husband’s take over again? Or will their husband’s have to take a “backseat” to their wives new, powerful positions? Will anyone find a “happy ending?” To find out, you need to pick up or rent The Kitchen. Look for it where ever movies are sold or rented.

There are some bonus features with this title.

“The Kitchen” Blu-ray contains the following special features:

  • Running Hell’s Kitchen – Cast, crew and others talk about the making of the film, mob movies, and working together. 
  • Taking Over the Neighborhood – Several people from the film discuss shooting in New York City and recreating the film’s late-1970s look, as well as how expensive it is to love in NYC.
  • Deleted Scene between Ruby and her husband in a restaurant. This is one of those scenes where I don’t know if it would have made a difference in the overall story, or not. 

“The Kitchen” DVD contains the following special feature:

  • Running Hell’s Kitchen

Interestingly enough, there are not that many bonus features with this film. Normally films have a lot of bonus content, so this was a surprise to me.

I have seen McCarthy is more serious roles (but I do prefer her comedies). I just never saw her in a role such as this one. It was hard for me to disassociate McCarthy the comedian from McCarthy the ruthless and fearless mob boss.

It was even hard for me to see Haddish in this role. The only films I have ever seen her in have been comedies. I have never seen her in a drama before. As for Moss, I have seen her in serious roles, so that was easy enough for me to “get on board” with.

I’m more into comedies and horror films, but this one seemed interesting ever since I first saw the trailer for it (see below for the theaterical trailer). There was just something about it that I liked.

Overall I enjoyed the film. Its hard to think that mob/mafia stuff like that is real and it’s still like that today (although more ruthless, I’m sure).

What I find interesting about this film is that woman are the dominant characters in this crime drama. Normally it’s always men who are the primary characters and the women the secondary characters. I guess you can chalk this film up to gender equality, especially because the women carried this film so well.

There is a lot of violence in this film. I’m not particularly keen on that, but I suppose it was necessarily to show how heartless and mean the mob/mafia can be. It’s also not the type of film where you root for the main characters, or at least I didn’t feel that way. The women turned out to be just as cold-hearted as their male counterparts. Its hard to root for people who use violence to get their point across. This is far from a “feel good” movie too. It’s dark and violent, despite the comedic leads.

I did like this film, but I am not entirely sure if I would watch it again and again like I do Goodfellas, or my husband does with the 900 hour long Godfather films (LOL).

You can check out The Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The official hastag is #TheKitchen. Or you can try #TheKitchenMovie.



*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Making Extra Cash from Home for Your Family



When you are raising a family, there are always going to be times when you could use a little extra cash. Some people find that they could do with some extra money on the odd occasion while others find themselves in need of extra cash on a regular basis. The expense of raising a family can be very tough on the purse strings, so many have to look for ways to make additional income.

The good news is that internet technology could be the ideal solution for you if you want to make some extra cash. People go online for many reasons these days, whether it is to buy something, do some research, use specialist tools such as phone number search, or socialize with others. Therefore, running a small business online from home will make it easier for you to enjoy success and make some much-needed additional income.

Some of the Jobs You Can Do

So, what sort of work can you do online and from home in order to bring in some extra cash? Well, there are various different options available for those who want to earn some extra money on a regular basis. However, in order to decide which one is right for you, it is important to consider your interests and skills, qualifications, and experience.

One of the things you can consider if you want to make extra cash is to offer your services as an online content writer. This is something that many businesses and individuals are interested in because they need good writers for their online marketing materials, websites, blogs, and other digital publications. You will, therefore, find plenty of demand for your services as long as you are good at what you do, you research thoroughly, and you are reliable. You can work at your own pace from your home office and schedule your hours around your existing work and commitments.

If you like to buy and sell, one thing you can do online is to set up your own retail website or even an eBay store. You can then purchase items in bulk depending on where you feel there is a gap in the market, and then sell them on at a profit via your site or store. Lots of people have been able to make extra money doing this because of the popularity of online shopping. You could even turn it into a full time venture once you have a solid customer base and plenty of good reviews.

For those who have marketing experience and technical knowledge, digital marketing could be the perfect way to make extra cash. Businesses these days are keen to ensure they have a strong digital presence, and this is something you could help with. You can work from the comfort of your own home and help businesses succeed through marketing their brand, goods, and services via a number of different digital channels.

So, if you want to make money from home, consider the options listed above.

How to Talk to Your Parents About Elderly Housing Options


Talking to your parents about assisted living can be difficult. Explore all your options with this guide to how to talk to your parents about future housing.

As our parents get older and their health shifts and, in some cases, worsens, it may become obvious to us that they need assisted living accommodations.

Having that conversation, however, can be difficult. We may be afraid that our parents will be offended by the suggestion or that they are incapable of being part of the decision-making process.

One thing to remember during this time is that you are not alone.

Let’s discuss the subject of how to talk to your parents about assisted living and what your options are.

How to Talk to Your Parents About Assisted Living

Don’t feel like you have to plunge head-on into making a plan. Start by approaching the subject with your parents in a way that does not make them feel antagonized. Say things like, “I’d like to get your opinion on something I’ve been thinking about.”

If avoidable, don’t go it alone. You don’t want to make your parents feel like they’re being ganged up on, but you also need to alleviate some of the pressure from yourself. Ask your siblings or other close family members to get involved in the conversation, as well as your parents’ doctors.

Make it clear that assisted living is one of a few options that are up for consideration and that you wouldn’t make decisions without their input. At the same time, once the conversation has been on the table for a few weeks or even months, it may be a good idea to set a firm deadline. Say things like, “This is still an on-going conversation, but I think we need to make a decision by this time and start moving forward.”

Finally, remind them that you’re having this conversation with them because you care. Some seniors feel like they are being put in assisted living because their family no longer wishes to deal with them, but you know that this is not the case. Try your best to help them understand that, too.

Assisted Living Options

Nearly one million American seniors are in assisted living homes, but those are not the only options you have for your parents.

There are retirement communities that offer the luxury of personal living space. The transition from their own home to a smaller home in a retirement community may be more comfortable for your parents. Retirement communities tend to have amenities such as nearby senior care, on-call medical staff, and coordinated social activities.

If your parents are very reluctant to leave their own home and aren’t in need of constant medical attention, consider elderly home care services. Depending on your needs, elderly home care workers can help with mobility, administer medicine, assist with hygiene, and more.

In the event that your parents are experiencing medical and mental changes that inhibit them from basic day-to-day functions, assisted living is certainly the way to go. There, they will receive round-the-clock care and attention and you can rest easy knowing that they are getting the help they need.

Be Kind to Yourself

This is not just a tough time for your parents. It’s also a tough time for you!

Have patience with yourself and with the process. Learning how to talk to your parents about assisted living isn’t always easy or linear. There will probably be good days and bad days, but remember that you are doing what is right for everyone.

Have any experience with talking to your parents about difficult subjects and want to share? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.