Archives for October 30, 2014

IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT: How Religious Believers and Nonbelievers Can Create Strong Marriages and Loving Families Dale McGowan

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A few weeks ago, I was chatting with one of my best friends (who lives out of state) about how couples do not always have the same religious beliefs. I have the belief that couples can make a relationship work if they do have different beliefs as long as the couple is not critical of each other’s beliefs. It is funny how things work sometimes because when I came home I received an email about reviewing a book called In Faith and In Doubt: How religious believers and nonbelievers can create marriage and loving families. Did you know that  59% of married Americans who claim no religious affiliation are married to someone who does? (Pew Research Center) That fact actually really doesn’t surprise me. I do have different beliefs than some of my friends and even family members.

Mixed belief marriages/relationships tend to bring more complexities when it comes to relationships and parenting, but popular author, Dale McGowan does not believe they are doomed as so many do. In the first book of its kind, IN FAITH AND IN DOUBT: How Religious Believers and Nonbelievers Can Create Strong Marriages and Loving Families (AMACOM; $17.95 Paperback) McGowan shows that mixed-belief marriages and families can be highly successful and deeply fulfilling.

 

In this groundbreaking book, he provides insights such as:

 

  • Advice for handling holidays, churchgoing, baptism, circumcision, religious literacy, and more.
  • Advice for dealing with pressures from extended families
  • Advice on bringing kids into the mix, from the importance of reaching an agreement on a family approach to religion early—preferably before having kids—to pointers on raising children to be both religiously literate and freethinkers.
  • Negotiation tips that set the stage for harmonious relationships.

I received a copy of this book and found it quite positive and refreshing. I like how the book is divided into three different parts. Part One is basically about the believers and the nonbelievers and the whole perspective. In part Two, there are the individual couple’s stories. I found this quite interesting and insightful. Part Three discusses the different issues and it is very helpful about how to deal with the different issues. It is full of helpful and positive advice. I highly recommend to all couples with different beliefs! I know that I will be sending this one to my best friend.

You can find the book at Amazon.com. You can also find it at AMACOM.

Self Disclosure: I received a free book to facilitate this feature.

 

Help 11 year-old Long Beach resident and founder of Love In the Mirror collect 10,000 pairs of socks for homeless charity

Love in the Mirror: Long Beach resident Jonas Corona founded Love in the Mirror at the age of 6, and is seeking supporters to join him in collecting 10,000 pairs of socks to help homeless during the colder winter months.  Jonas recently shared his story on daytime television when he visited the new FOX daytime talk show The Real and received a generous donation of 3,000 pairs of brand-new socks to help get him started. The episode aired nationwide on Tuesday, October 14th.

 

 

“Socks are very important because most homeless people walk all day and many of them don’t even have shoes. Socks will help keep their feet warm and protect them” Corona said.  “Every year, our goal is to collect 10,000 pairs of socks, and the closest I came was just over 8,000 pairs” Corona added.

 

There are several ways to get involved with this event.  We invite the public to start their own collection drives to help us reach our goal. Parents and teachers can get youth involved in their neighborhood, school or church.  Individuals, families and businesses can also donate socks at one of our drop-off locations throughout the city during the entire month of November or you can donate $1 or more online at www.loveinthemirror.org /donate and we will purchase socks for you.

 

About Love in the Mirror

Love in the Mirror is a charitable organization that strives to inspire young people to MAKE A DIFFERENCE through their volunteer commitment of providing disadvantaged youth and their families with basic necessities.  Corona founded Love in the Mirror at age 6 to help people in need. He believes that everyone should look in the mirror and love what they see and without basic necessities, it is hard for them to do this.  Over the past five years, the organization has helped over 30,000 people with food, clothing, toiletries, school supplies and toys.  For more information on how you can help, contact Love in the Mirror at (562) 433- 5100 or  info@loveinthemirror.org. Love in the Mirror is a 501(c)(3) Federal Tax  ID 27-1309206.

 

Dani ‘BEAUTY LAND’ Katy Perry Meets Tim Burton Meets Disney...GET YOUR FAIRYTALE ON!

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With Parents’ Choice® and NAPPA Awards for her debut album Beauty Land in her hip pocket, children’s musician Dani is truly ready to share her music – and two new companion videos – with the world.

 

Phil Dornfeld, producer/writer of Scary Movie 3, 4, and 5 was excited to direct Dani’s new “Beauty Land” music video, an exquisite fantasy showcasing Dani’s talents and featuring 20 child dancers. Dani is also thrilled to share her beautiful “Run and Fly” music video, a dreamy lullaby shot at dusk and imbued with twinkling lights and sparklers. Both of these videos can be seen on Dani’s Youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/DaniBeautyLand.

 

These gorgeous videos embellish Dani’s captivating, interactive concept album, Beauty Land, where each song is part of a mini-epic legend of giants, kings, enchanted forests and princesses. Beauty Land is rooted in the same magical soil as Disney’s Frozen, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Shrek.  With folk, pop, rock, country, electronic, and even jazz and metal influences, Beauty Land is a recording to which a diverse population of kids  – from tough to dainty – can relate.

 

Beauty Land offers a setting where Dani calls upon her considerable singing and storytelling talents to create a modern tale of enchantment that employs elements of mystery, fantasy, and intrepid heroism much like that encountered in The Chronicles of Narnia.  The album’s mystical, impressionistic ambience is a framework that holds together a collection of captivating songs and dances that urge the listener to engage in song and movement.  Dani’s colorful, atmospheric music runs the gamut from exotic to spooky, and through it all, her very listenable voice is the anchor that pulls everything together.

 

Following an evocative prologue, Beauty Land begins with “Skipping Through the Woods,” and listeners can join with brother-and-sister Jimmy and Lulu as they joyfully clap, sing, and dance their way through an enchanted forest. Spooky minor key effects are woven together over an irresistible beat in “Strange Little Witch,” announcing the arrival of a devious witch with a poofy dress and crazy hair.  Captured by the witch and cast into a dungeon, Jimmy and Lulu dream of escaping to Beauty Land, a wonderful place filled with beautiful colors and candy treats.  A sweet, comforting interlude follows, with “Magic Wish,” an a cappella ballad in which Dani serenades the children as one who has entered the story to give aid in their escape.  A dramatic journey ensues, laced with episodes like “Jimmy and the Giant,” “Mrs. Blue” (whose specialty is the blues and who belts out a verse that leads to some great ‘50s rhythm ‘n’ blues), and “Mountain King,” a royal rhythm master who challenges Jimmy to a test of four rhythms, which our hero passes with flying colors.  The children are sung to sleep by a “Butterfly Princess,” and, upon awakening, resume their travels, encountering wild “Tree Creatures” and dancing “Kangaroo Kids” who guide them to the island of Beauty Land. The odyssey comes to a moment of repose with “Ocean,” as Jimmy and Lulu bid their friends goodbye and set sail for the land of their dreams.  With courage, spunk, and support from others, they have achieved their goal, against all odds. The story ends in true cliffhanger fashion, paving the way for a future Beauty Land album.  Stay tuned!

 

 

Notes director Phil Dornfeld, “Dani is a special kind of children’s artist, in that her songs tell a wonderful story that captures kids’ imagination, yet the music is complex and melodious enough to entertain parents. I genuinely enjoy her music, and it was an honor to direct the video for the title track on her Beauty Land album.”

 

Dani reflects, “The majority of kids today don’t listen to ‘children’s music.’ They listen to Top 40 radio, which is hip-hop, pop, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Wiz Khalifa, and so forth.  I like Top 40, too!  However, a lot of the lyrics are inappropriate for children.  With Beauty Land, I wanted to create relatable, Top 40 sounding songs but with family appropriate lyrics. My hope is to bring magic and fantasy into kids’ lives and to inspire them to dream big.”

 

A Chicago area native, Dani has been immersed in music since childhood, performing in her first musical theater production at age six, playing the lead in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella in middle school, and singing in choirs and a cappella groups throughout high school and college.  She was an original member of Berklee College of Music’s “Pitch Slapped,” which went on to win numerous awards and to appear on NBC’s The Sing Off.  After graduating from Berklee College of Music with a degree in music therapy, Dani did her seven-month music therapy internship at the Institute for Therapy Through the Arts (ITA) in Evanston, Illinois, passed her certification exam, and joined the ITA staff.  As a board certified music therapist, Dani traveled to special education classrooms throughout the Chicago area, where she used music to help children improve their social skills.  After two years, she moved to Los Angeles to focus on writing and performing music.  Dani was inspired to write the Beauty Land album after working behind the scenes at Rockhard Films, a Los Angeles-based music video production company where she assisted on set for projects starring Adam Lambert, Marilyn Manson, Rita Ora, Bella and Zendaya, Karmin, LFMAO, and more.

 I received a copy of this CD to review and what really shines through is that Dani is unique! The music is catchy and cool for young kids and Mom and Dad will love that the lyrics are appropriate! The music is also definitely fun and will motivate young children to sing and dance along to the colorful music that seems to also be telling a story. 

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Beauty Land is available at amazon.com and iTunes.

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this feature. Photo Credit: Dani.

NEW Colgate(R) Enamel Health Toothpaste

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Halloween is fast approaching which usually means time to concentrate on your children’s dental health against all the Halloween sweets and treats. But it’s also important to remember mom’s teeth too— between sneaking a bit of your kid’s candy or sipping pumpkin spice beverages on chilly fall mornings, you want to guarantee that your teeth don’t fall victim to seasonal sweets:

Enter the NEW Colgate® Enamel Health TM Toothpaste which helps smooth enamel in two ways:

  1. Helps replenish natural calcium and other minerals back into weakened enamel, filling rough spots and making it stronger
  2. Gently polishes the enamel surface with gentle micro-polishing action, so germs are less likely to stick to teeth

 

To complete the line, the Colgate® 360°® Enamel Health™ Manual Toothbrush has several features that complement the toothpaste. The uniquely designed bristles help protect enamel surfaces and gums, while the polishing whitening cups gently remove stains for a brighter smile.

I received samples of the NEW Colgate Enamel Toothpaste and I really like it! I would say my teeth even seemed cleaner and brighter! I also really like the Colgate 360 Enamel Health Manual Toothbrush. I think it really is a Must-have for Moms and Dads.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this feature. Photo Credit: Colgate.

VoilaVe Total Youth Under Eye Gel

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I have actually tried quite a few Eye Creams and they haven’t worked too well. I have only been using this one for a little over a week but it does seem to work well for puffiness around the eyes. I also like that it is completely organic and natural and can be used on the whole face. It has a really cooling, soothing sensation. I haven’t yet seen any major improvement but have not been using it that long. I do think that it is making my dark circles slightly lighter and I do like how it feels on my face. It also comes in a larger bottle than most eye creams I have used in the past. I also really like that it comes in a dispense pump bottle. This is now a Must-Have in my skin care routine.

You can find out more and purchase on the website.

Self Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review.

More Halloween Decorating Fun with Buy Costumes.com

Halloween is only a day away! Can you believe it? We received some really cool Halloween fun decorations from our friends at Buycostumes.com. These will make Halloween a scream!

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This animated cat is quite scary! He has light up eyes and moves its head back and forth. It also make scary sounds! You can check it out here. And, I love the Glow in the Dark Shark Pumpkin Teeth! (18 teeth in all!) My son and I can’t wait to make our Shark Jack-o-lantern later today! It may be too late to buy them online for tomorrow, but they are on sale right now for $1.97!

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Then there is the Outdoor LED Spot Light (Black). This one has an extra bright UV light. A must-have for Halloween fun! And, last but not least there is the Crashing Witch Insta View! It is on sale now too! Only $2.97!! You can turn any wall into a window with a Witch crashing into it!

For these and many other holiday products, check out buycostumes.com. They also have some great products for the upcoming holidays!

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this feature. Photo Credit: Buycostumes.com.

Ayara Thai Cuisine Wins ‘Best Dish’ at CPAF’s 36th Anniversary Gala

On September 11th, The Center for the Pacific Asian Family hosted their 36th Anniversary Gala titled “Champions for a Change” at the Majestic Halls in Downtown Los Angeles. The event was hosted by Award winning broadcast journalist, Susan Hirasuna of FOX 11. The night included light snacks, cocktails, a silent auction, celebrity appearances followed by a food competition for ‘Best Dish’.

The ‘Culinary Heroes’ portion of the event included 16 top Los Angeles restaurants including Faith & Flower, Chaya,Phorage, Ayara Thai Cuisine, Wood & Vine, ChocoChicken, Little Sister,  and more. All restaurants competed for the honor of ‘Best Dish’ which was chosen by a group of hand-selected guest judges comprised of food writers and bloggers who each did a blind-tasting. The dish that came out on top was Ayara Thai Cuisine’s Khao Soi Noodle with Coconut Foam. A Northern Chicken Curry Noodle dish made with egg noodles and melt-off-the-drumstick chicken, garnished with fried noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, fried whole chiles and a squeeze of fresh lime. Vanda Asapahu, of the Ayara Thai family accepted the award on behalf of the family and restaurant says, “It was so humbling that our Khao Soi was honored as the “Best Dish” of the evening, especially amongst many amazing dishes prepared by all the talented chefs who participated. This award is a testament to my mother’s recipe and is dedicated to all women chefs.” Center for the Pacific Asian Family’s mission is to build healthy and safe communities by addressing the root causes and consequences of family violence and violence against women.

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Ayara Thai Cuisine, a family-owned restaurant in Los Angeles opened in August of 2004 by chef and restaurateur, Andy Asapahu and his wife, chef Anna Asapahu, to craft delicious home-cooked Thai food. At Ayara Thai Cuisine, dishes are prepared from family recipes and cooking styles have been passed down through generations. The Asapahu family of Ayara Thai offers taste of their authentic home-cooked Thai food, where quality is never compromised. They use fresh seasonal ingredients and each dish is prepared from scratch and enhanced individually by herbs and spices to ensure the boldest, most genuine flavors.

Ayara Thai Cuisine is located at 6245 W 87th St, Los Angeles, CA 90045 (310) 410-8848

For more information, visit www.AyaraThaiCuisine.com

Raffi Love Bug! Raffi's first album of children's songs in 12 years!

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Love Bug, Raffi’s first album of children’s songs in twelve years, marks a welcome return for the artist. The effortlessly engaging 16-song collection, which will be released July 15 on Rounder, embodies all of the qualities that have already established Raffi as a beloved and trusted icon for young listeners.

 

“I see this album as a celebration of the real world, in response to the digital overreach that now touches every aspect of our lives,” Raffi says. “I think that these songs are rich in themes and styles and rhythms, but the main thing is that it’s filled with joy. Essentially, this is an album about love. When I hear this album, I hear myself strong and smiling.”

 

Raffi recorded much of Love Bug in his own living room, accompanied by an extended family of musicians whose talent and sensitivity on a wide range of instruments lends added warmth and uplift to the artist’s new songs of love (“Love Bug,” “Seeing the Heart”), nature (“In the Real World,” “Blue White Planet”), play (“Free to Play,” “To the Park”), chores (“Mama Loves It”), teamwork (“On Hockey Days”), imagination (“Magic Wand”) and the need to slow down and catch one’s breath amidst the accelerated pace of modern life (“Cool Down Reggae”).

 

Other album highlights include Raffi’s tributes to a pair of recently-departed heroes: folk-music iconoclast and children’s-music pioneer Pete Seeger, whose spirit animates the upbeat instrumental “Pete’s Banjo,” and human-rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose achievements are celebrated on the poignant “Turn This World Around.” Elsewhere on Love Bug, Raffi delivers a rollicking reading of the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is Your Land,” Love Bug‘s only non-original composition.

 

“I had a lot of fun putting the album together,” Raffi notes, “and I put a lot of thought into assembling and sequencing this group of songs. Once I felt that inner spark telling me that it was time for a new CD, I’m amazed at how smoothly it went.”

 

 

Although Love Bug is his first children’s album since 2002’s Let’s Play, Raffi has been remarkably active and productive over the past several years. He has devoted much of his time and energy to the his vision of Child Honouring, an original holistic philosophy for creating a humane and sustainable world by addressing the universal needs of children and a unifying ethic for restoring human and natural communities.

 

In 2013, after learning about the online extortion that led to the suicide of Vancouver teenager Amanda Todd, Raffi was inspired to write his widely acclaimed book

Lightweb/Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Before it Re-Forms Us. The book addresses the myriad concerns posed by the internet in relation to young children’s developmental needs.

 

“For me, to be a children’s advocate in this day and age, and not comment on social media, I wouldn’t be doing my job properly,” Raffi states, adding, “I’m a tech enthusiast myself, and I’ve kept up with the times, in terms of how I record and the freedom that the online and digital worlds give me. But with all tech events, the challenge is to keep your humanity in the forefront.

 

“InfoTech is changing childhood and changing parenting, and parents are now raising children in two different worlds, the real world and the virtual world. Many parents don’t understand that this tech isn’t good for children in their early years. We adults are custodians of a real world that children growing up today may not know or remember. Zero to six is a formative time for children. What’s forming is how it feels to be human, and we need to give those kids the chance for real-world textures and rhythms to be imprinted in their growing brains. So I think that the best thing I can do, coming out with a new CD at this time, is to add a fresh voice to that dialogue.”
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We received a copy of the CD and I love it! I remember Raffi from my days of being a Pre-school Teacher! Young children will love these delightful and fun songs.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate this feature. Photo/press credit: Raffi.