Peach Balsamic Salad Dressing Recipe

peach balsamic salad dressing recipeBud’s girlfriend, Willow, is a great cook.  She’s only 18, but she can do so much more than I can.  Her mama taught her well.  Thank you Jodi!!

Here’s just a few of the amazing goodies she’s made from a box:

Willow box collageFollowing is her newest recipe – Peach Balsamic Salad Dressing.  She made it especially for me, because it is super low sodium. It is my new favorite salad dressing!! (Scroll past this recipe for a list of all of Willow’s recipes that have been featured on the blog).

Peach Balsamic Salad Dressing Recipe


2 parts peach balsamic vinegar

1 part balsamic vinegar

1 part olive oil


Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

peach balsamic salad dressing recipeEnjoy!!

Willow’s other recipes:

Cream Sauce for Pasta

Pumpkin Pancakes

Prosciutto Pizza

White Wine Sage Chicken

Lemon Butter Sauce

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Lemon Parmesan Chicken

Jamaican Flag Birthday Cake

Coconut Cream Banana Cake




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Family Trip to Oregon 2014

This is the first year I have EVER had paid vacation!!  I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around it.  Anyway, we decided to piggyback one week of my vacation with the Fourth of July holiday and take a family road trip to Oregon to visit Art’s parents.

Screenshot 2014-07-27 19.20.05Seven hours and 1 minute is not too bad, except that it does not account for traffic, construction delays, potty and food stops, etc.  Total trip one way probably took closer to 8 1/2 or 9 hours.  With four adults and their luggage crammed in a Honda Civic.  It’s a miracle we didn’t kill each other (partially due to our excitement of the trip and partially due to the fact that at least two of us were on anti-anxiety meds).

So we left Napa at about 1:30 p.m. on July 3rd and arrived in Sutherlin, Oregon at about 9 p.m.  Being the day before a major holiday, there was quite a bit of traffic.  In addition, once we got past Lake Shasta (not much of a lake in the current drought), we were forced down to one lane due to the neverending construction of the new Lake Shasta bridge.

Grandma and Grandpa had pizza waiting for us.  Mostly we were just grateful to stretch our legs and go to bed.

Bud and Grandma

Bud and Grandma

The next day was Independence Day.  This was the biggest excitement of the trip because where we live in California, the only fireworks are at public displays.  Bud had always wanted to try out “real” fireworks himself.  After lunch, we headed to the local Bi-Mart to purchase a pack of pyrotechnic power!!


Bud and "his" fireworks

Bud and “his” fireworks

Usually Grandma and Grandpa’s neighborhood has a big display, but the organizers were on a trip to Europe, so we just set up in Grandma and Grandpa’s driveway and let ‘er rip.  Even Grandma and Grandpa got into the act!!

Grandma and Grandpa enjoying the fireworks

Willow even baked a cake to celebrate the occasion:

Willow's cake

Willow’s cake

The next day we all drove over to the beach where Grandma and Grandpa treated us to lunch.  We went to Winchester Dunes and the Umpqua Lighthouse.  Bud and Willow really enjoyed touring the lighthouse and seeing the rooms representing different decades in U.S. naval history.

Umpqua Lighthouse

Umpqua Lighthouse

While at the beach we saw all these really cool jelly-like beings washed up on the shore.  Grandpa told us they are called sail jellyfish.

Sail Jellyfish

Sail Jellyfish

On the way home, we stopped at a viewing deck to see wild elk feeding:



We had a few more days with Grandma and Grandpa, which were much enjoyed.  Before we left for the long drive home, we stopped at the Oregon Gift store (formerly Magic Mushroom Lamp Co), a landmark in Sutherlin, for some souvenir photos.

Gnome in front of Magic Mushroom Lamp Company

Gnome in front of Magic Mushroom Lamp Company

Here’s the info on some of the places we went:

Sutherlin, Oregon

Umpqua River Lighthouse

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Oregon Gifts/Magic Mushroom Lamp Co


Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Just Desserts Book Tour and Giveaway (ends 8/22)


When her friend Julia needed help forming a revenge plan against her ex-boyfriend, Ava was happy to lend a hand. She never expected that in the course of making Liam pay, she’d be the one to fall hard. . .for the one person who was absolutely off-limits. Crushing on the guy who humiliated her best friend is definitely against the girl code.
Besides, Ava has goals. Her life is all about graduating with honors and landing the perfect job. And Liam Bailey—sweet-talking, complicated son of a well-known local politician—isn’t part of those plans.
But Liam doesn’t give up easily. And he doesn’t intend to let their friends’ opinions, his parents’ disapproval or Ava’s past get in the way of what he wants–Ava’s heart.

Buy the book:

Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Smashwords/iBooks

About the Author

Tawdra Kandle has been a writer since the invention of the pen. Her first published work appeared in Child’s Life magazine when she was 13. After a brief, thirty-year hiatus, she published a young adult quartet, The King Series. More recently, she’s released contemporary and paranormal romances in both the adult and New Adult genres. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband and children, of both skin and fur types. And yes, she has purple hair.

Follow Tawdra:


Follow the tour here!

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What’s Your #PoweredUpMoment ? #PowerProject

Growing up, we lived out in the country.  Our house was all electric, so if the power went out, which it did at least a few times a year, we had nothing.  Couldn’t cook, only flashlights or candles at night, and no water!!  Yes, even the pump for the well was electric.  Fortunately, we never had to wait more than a few hours for the power to come back on.

V4-Power-Project-Short-share-graphic-1200But what if you had to live your whole life with little or no electricity?  What if, in this modern age, you had to do your homework in the dark?  What if the only way you could cook dinner for your family was over an open fire – indoors?  What if you gave birth in a hospital with no electricity and there was no way to give your child the life-saving vaccines every baby needs – because there was no way to keep the vaccines refrigerated?

This is what life is like for 70% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa. has a vision for these people, called The Power Project.

The United States Senate is considering a bill (the Energize Africa Act) that will help African countries provide electricity to millions of people – and at no expense to US taxpayers. So the purpose of The Power Project is to show our senators that there’s a LOT of support for this bill. So they’ve set a goal – 50,000 messages to the Senate – and we need your help to reach it. We know it can be done – ONE members helped get a similar bill passed in the House of Representatives. Now it’s time to focus on the Senate!

Won’t You Help?

No donation is required.  All you have to do is click through my link, sign your own letter to the Senate, and that’s it!!  And if I get enough people to send messages, I can win a trip to Washington, DC to help deliver our messages in person. Thanks for your support!


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My Life in a Nutshell Book Review

My Life in a Nutshell Book ReviewTitle: My Life in a Nutshell

Author: Tanya J. Peterson

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Inkwater Press

Release Date:May 2014

Format: Kindle/paperback

Pages: 337 pages

From the author of Leave of Absence (read my review) comes another compelling tale of the human psyche. A brilliant and talented man crippled by extreme anxiety and panic attacks, Brian has carefully crafted his world so that his interactions with others are severely limited. Although incapable of changing his situation, he discovers that, somehow, he is the only person seven-year-old Abigail can trust. Having bounced from one foster home to another, she has unexpectedly come to live with a childless uncle and aunt she has never known. For very different reasons, both Brian and Abigail are trapped in emotionally and socially isolated lives. Can they learn from each other?


My Life in a Nutshell book reviewMy Review:

How did Tanya J. Peterson know what is going on inside my head?  Can she read my thoughts? ;-)  Life in a Nutshell hit very close to home for me.

As I’ve written on this blog before, I have struggled with anxiety most of my life (Comfortable in My Own Skin, Anxiety Triggers).  Brian’s attempts to deal with his anxiety, reminded me very much of my own issues.  Here are some excerpts from the book, followed by my personal thoughts.

I hurry to the door but stop myself before I throw it open.  If someone’s there, I’ll get ambushed.

For many years, I was afraid to go outside by myself, especially at night.  I was also afraid to open the front door if I heard a knock or the doorbell.

He’s always nice to me, but I’m afraid that he’s just pretending.

I still struggle with this one.  I have friends, but, especially with new friends,  I always wonder if I’ve said or done something wrong or if they are just being nice to me.

Brian works at an elementary school.  Part of his job is to check with the teachers, at the beginning of his shift, to see if they have any computer or equipment problems.

First, I knock on their doors even though they’re usually open.  I don’t feel comfortable barging into their classrooms or the office uninvited.  I know they’re expecting me; however, these spaces aren’t mine and I can’t bring myself to enter without express permission.

I have worked at the same job for five years.  My boss has always had an open door policy with his office and no one else has ever knocked.  For some reason, I always knock before entering.  Every single time. So much so that he knows it’s me without even having to turn around.

The fight-or-flight response is a basic physiological reaction that happens when people (or animals) experience a threat.  In people with anxiety disorder this response gets mixed up.  Here is Brian’s description:

My fight-or-flight response has kicked in, and my instincts tell me to run away and never look back.  My instincts always go there.  I guess my response to stressful, threatening situations isn’t fight-or-flight.  It’s just flight.

I have had moments where my urge to run was so great that I had to have Art take my hand and nearly drag me into a place (my first and second Jeapardy tests for example).

Door number one leads to a restroom, which my anxiety-irritated bladder would greatly appreciate using.  My ridiculously shy and fearful mind, though, will never ask to use it, therefore, my bladder resigns itself to wait for home.

As I mentioned in my post on anxiety triggers, I sat through most of my first group therapy session needing to pee, but afraid to leave the room – afraid of “getting in trouble.”

My anxiety is flaring as I think about what I should do.  I don’t want to insult her by leaving, but what if she’s trying to get me to leave? I glance up at her to see if I can tell what she wants me to do.

“Anything is okay.  You don’t have to agonize over this,” she tells me matter-of-factly.

Whenever I’m at a party or visiting a friend I always worry about whether I am staying too long or leaving too early.  I’ve found that as an anxious person it’s very hard for me to read visual cues.  Also, the golden rule of “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you” is a nightmare for a person with anxiety disorder.  If I don’t even know what I want how am I supposed to figure out what the other person wants?

Another thing we, as anxious people, tend to do is imagine the worst case scenario, and assume it is true.  So-and-so didn’t smile at me today like she usually does.  She must hate me.  It doesn’t matter how ridiculous this sounds, and I swear to you that if someone else said it to me, I would tell them they were crazy.  But as Brian says, “it’s true for other people, but not me.”

I look from one to the other in an attempt to understand how each could assert a different position, defend it, and remain not only alive but seemingly calm.  I can’t explain it.

This is one I have only recently been able to realize myself.  That not everyone comes undone if they don’t agree.  Disagreement does not have to mean the end of a friendship, or that someone will no longer like me.  Took me almost 47 years to figure it out.

What if I take a bite that is too big or too small or I chew wrong or I choke because I’m nervous?

With my asthma and chronic cough, this is an especially large problem.  Every Friday, at my work, the company buys lunch to-go from a nice restaurant and we all eat together.  For the first four years I passed up this opportunity because I was afraid of choking or having an asthma attack.

Fortunately, Brian (and me) has some friends (and a good therapist) who give him good advice and care about him.  Here are some examples:

Ah, mistakes are such an integral part of the human experience.

This isn’t a judgement of who you are as a person.

I think the best part of the book is Brian’s interactions with Abigail. Helping her helps him come out of his anxiety.  I enjoyed reading Brian’s setbacks and triumphs throughout the book, and remembering my own.

I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book.  I HIGHLY recommend My Life in a Nutshell for those who are dealing with anxiety, as well as those who want to understand what we are going through.

I give My Life in a Nutshell five stars!!! A must read!!!

About the Author:

Image of Tanya J PetersonTanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities, including NAMI Lane County, OR. Locally and nationally, she gives presentations about mental health and mental illness. Tanya is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on, and she is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Leave of Absence and My Life in a Nutshell, each featuring characters living with mental illness and addressing themes around mental health.

Follow her on blog/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.  All opinions are 100% my own.


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Spanakopita Greek Spinach Pie Recipe

spanakopita recipeIf you read this blog regularly, you will know that since making my Easy Berry Phyllo Tarts, I have been trying to find more recipes to use up the rest of my phyllo dough.  A couple of weeks ago, Art and I experimented with Meatballs in Phyllo Appetizers, and they were a big hit!!

Well, I still had quite a bit of phyllo dough left over, so I started brainstorming with some friends at work.  First, we thought of baklava, but that is a bit expensive to make, and would require a few alterations, since I have reacted badly to walnuts in the past.  Then we hit on spanakopita.  Spanakopita is a Greek savory pastry made with spinach, feta, onions, egg and seasoning.  It is served either layered in phyllo dough or in little triangular phyllo pockets.

This recipe was a no-brainer for me since I always have spinach, feta, onions and eggs in the house and, of course, I already had the phyllo.  As usual, I tweaked it a bit to make it my own.  My friends at work loved it and I hope you do too!!

 Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie ) Recipe


1/2 bag fresh spinach, steamed

5 oz. crumbled feta (I used tomato-basil flavor)

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 egg, beaten

10 sheets phyllo dough, divided

1/2 cup butter, melted


Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine spinach,  feta, onion and garlic powder and egg in a bowl.

Brush a 9″x9″ square pan with melted butter.

Trim the phyllo dough to fit the pan.

Add 5 sheets of phyllo, one layer at a time, brushing each layer with butter before adding the next one.

Spread spinach mixture over layered phyllo sheets.

Add remaining 5 sheets of phyllo, repeating brushing with butter as before.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

spanakopita recipeEnjoy!!



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Aqua Zinger Fruit Infuser Water Bottle Review

Aqua Zinger Fruit Infuser Aqua Zinger Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

by ZingAnything

  • Sports Cap Double wall stainless steel keeps your drink and ingredients insulated,finger hole provided for easy carrying,wide mouth top allows for easy filling and ice cubes, if needed.
  • Cushioned base through a soft rubber base pad to prevent slippage,health-safe materials – BPA/EA-free Tritan Plastic from Eastman and 18/8 stainless steel*,extra deep ingredient cup allows for maximized flavor,easy to clean .
  • Reusable,hot and cold liquid safe,carbonated water friendly.Keep children away from the Aqua Zinger without the help of parental supervision.
  • The recommended Aqua infusion shelf life is three days for all beverages, if refrigerated. If you plan to consume your Zing creation with a 12-hour period, no chilling is required.
  • Aqua Zings typically produce one-two drinks per Zing. In order to return to a tasty concentration, we recommend adding new ingredients after two servings have been enjoyed (or 40 ounces).

My Review:

A friend at work got the Aqua Zinger as a Christmas present, but had never used it.  She brought it to work about a month ago and I thought it was so cool I had to get one for myself.

It is super easy to use.  You just pick the fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and/or sugars that you want the water to taste like. (Tougher ingredients may need to be cut into smaller pieces before grinding).  The bottle comes with a little brochure that gives some possible taste combinations.  My favorites so far have been blackberry mint and strawberry basil.  For my photos I used strawberry cucumber (refreshing).

I chopped the strawberries in half and added slices of cucumber to the base.

Aqua Zinger Fruit InfuserNext I put on the grinder lid and twisted it a few times to release some of the juice.  I screwed on the main bottle, added cold water, and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Voila!!  Fresh, cold, fruit-infused water!! I especially liked that there were no chunks like there are if I make fruit-infused water in a pitcher or glass.  You can also add carbonated water or soda for different flavors.

I’ve been using the AquaZinger for almost a month now and I can’t say enough good about it.  The parts wash easily in the dishwasher.  The sport top makes the bottle nearly spill-proof.  I put the fruit in the bottom before I leave for work in the morning and it flavors my water all day!!

I highly recommend the Aqua Zinger fruit infuser bottle for those who are tired of drinking “plain” water and want fresh, natural flavor without chunks.

You can purchase the Aqua Zinger Fruit infuser bottle at Amazon.

I did not receive anything for this review.  I purchased the Aqua Zinger on my own and enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it with my readers.  I will receive a commission if you purchase through the above link.

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Flash (The Forever Saga) Book Review

Flash Book Cover

Title: Flash

Series: The Forever Saga

Author: Sean C. Sousa

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Epical Media

Release Date: 2nd Edition – July 2014

Format: Kindle

Pages: 332 pages

Long ago, the first reign of Grigori Geist nearly destroyed the Earth. Returned from exile, Geist is secretly rebuilding his kingdom beneath Antarctica, assembling his robotic Vaucan race to war against mankind. Only one obstacle remains: the war hero known as Brian Renney. Yet Brian is losing a battle against his fears. Scars of heart and mind linger from his days in Vietnam, fueling his failures as husband and father. This embitters his youngest son, Jason – a star athlete torn between pursuing the love of his life, and meeting the demands of a father who is far from the storied army captain he once was. And all the while, Geist is coming for them. In this dark hour, Brian and Jason encounter a war to end all others… and an unexpected ally who, once meant for evil, shall forever be a force for good.


My Review:

There are so many things I liked about The Forever Saga: Flash.  First, it had an underlying good vs. evil message.  There are a few quotes from the Bible, the most repeated being “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)  This verse is one that has sustained me in difficult times and I love how Brian Renney and Prince Ahya’s creator both used it as a switch for the robot.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Brian and Flash the “robot”.  The whole Vaucan race brought back fond memories of a local TV show, Captain Cosmic.  Captain Cosmic aired Flash Gordon serials as well as Japanese serials, of which my favorite was Ultraman.  Flash and his frenemies remind me a lot of Ultraman.

The camaraderie between Brian’s son Jason and his college friends really helps to bring in the perspective of the younger generation.  The last quarter of the book ties together all the subplots running throughout the story.  The ending is bittersweet but well worth it and neatly sets up the series for Book 2.

The best part about the book is that a portion of every sale benefits International Justice Mission and their work to end human trafficking.

Overall, I recommend The Forever Saga: Flash for fans of science fiction, especially those who enjoy the traditional struggle of right and wrong.

I give The Forever Saga: Flash 4 1/2 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

About the Author:

Sean C. Sousa never planned on writing a novel – that is, until the idea for The Forever Saga came along. He first conceived it as a video game design concept, then a screenplay, and finally a written work of fiction. His debut novel, The Forever Saga: Flash, marks the end of one six-year journey toward publication, and also the beginning of another: to bring his stories to a worldwide audience.

His dream is to see fiction inspire positive social change in the world, calling attention to issues of social justice and mobilizing his readership to meet the needs of those afflicted.

Mr. Sousa resides in Southern California with his wife, Shelley, and when he is not writing further adventures about the Renney family, he is usually up to socially acceptable mischief with his friends and family.

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The Labyrinth Wall Book Blast

LabyrinthBookBlastThe-Labyrinth-Wall-CoverAraina’s isolated teenage life is forever altered when she witnesses a man emerge through a rippling wall into the dark labyrinth she calls home. As a result of the stranger’s arrival, Araina’s Creators have unleashed a series of magical attacks using the labyrinth against its inhabitants. Now Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies in order to reach safety on the other side of the labyrinth wall.

The Labyrinth Wall is the story of a young woman who discovers that although labyrinth walls confine her and her enemies try to repress her, the power of hope can set her free.

Will the walls that confine her be the walls that set her free?

Young Adult Fantasy Novel. Hit #2 on the Amazon Best Seller list in its category the day after release and hit #26 on the Top 100 Amazon Free Best Seller List. Only $.99
Grab it today

Buy on Amazon | B&N

Meet the Author:

EmilyannLab2Though she was born in Germany and raised in Turkey until the age of five, Emilyann Girdner spent the majority of her grade school years in Tallahassee, Florida. She discovered early she had a love for stories. Reading books, watching movies and then acting them out with friends or toys gave living an extra flavor. This is likely why she spent the first part of her college career studying Creative Writing, before switching to Graphic Design and then graduating with a BFA in Digital Art from Missouri State University in 2011. Her writing has appeared on websites and blogs including Center for Work Life, Easter Seals Florida, MU Museum of Art & Archaeology’s Musings and She is best known for her Amazon Best-Selling novel, The Labyrinth Wall. Emilyann is now living and working in Florida.

Given her three focus transitions as an undergraduate, it isn’t a shock that she is a multi-medium lover, exploring writing, digital art, photography and design. She finds that her creativity is most fluent when given the opportunity to bounce between artistic outlets.

To truly understand this Author, there are two things to know about her. Emilyann hopes to share a love for others and God in all she does. She believes that imagination sparks beauty in the soul.

Follow Emilyann:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Literary Addicts

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from the Author. Must be 18+ Open internationally. Ends 7/27/14 @ 11:59 PM EST
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7 Tips For Managing Bladder Control Problems #sponsored #Depend

I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for Depend. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Depend and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

Millions of Americans have bladder control issues, also known as urinary incontinence. The condition can affect anyone – not just older people. Bladder control issues can also affect young people, particularly woman who have given birth or men who have been treated for prostate cancer.

Check out these videos of real people who have bladder control problems, for various reasons.

I know for a few weeks after I gave birth (both times), I had to wear a maxi pad every day until I got full bladder control back.  Now that I’m getting older and have a chronic cough, there are times when I cough so hard that I leak ( a little or a lot depending on how full I am).  Following are some tips I have learned for managing bladder control problems:

  • Practice Kegels – Kegel exercises are especially helpful for women with mild symptoms, according to WebMD.  Kegels are done by tightening and releasing the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that help you start and stop your urine stream).
  • Keep a pee schedule – You may not always feel like you have to pee, but if you pee at the same times every day, whether you need it or not, it will help keep your bladder empty.
  • Once you’re done peeing, wait a minute, then see if you need to pee some more.  Another trick I learned when I was pregnant (which also works if you’re carrying a little excess weight) is to lift up your belly and see if that helps your bladder release some more urine.
  • Don’t drink any caffeine after 5 p.m. and try to cut back on the caffeine you already consume.
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 64 ounces) but don’t overdo it.
  • Talk to your doctor to see if there is any medical or medicine-related reason that could be causing your incontinence.
  • Use a product made specifically for bladder control problems.

managing bladder controlDepend Underwear with new Fit-Flex protection helps give you the confidence you need every day!!  Featuring more Lycra strands for a smooth and comfortable close-to-the-body-fit, Depend Underwear with new Fit-Flex protection provides the great protection people have come to expect from the Depend brand.

Order your free sample of Depend Underwear with new Fit-Flex protection.

Do you have any tips for managing bladder control problems?  Please share them in the comment section.

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