The Woman Behind the Sleigh Balls

Santa Joke

Meet the most important person at the pole!

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The Ultimate Book Lover’s Gift Guide

Happy Holidays and Happy reading!

This gift guide was compiled by Audrey van Petegem and Suzanne Letourneau of the ballyhoos, who support Indie Authors with their Branding and Marketing needs.


The Holidays are coming and you know what that means…..It is that time of year where you start looking for inspiring gift ideas to give to friends and family! Sure you can give gift cards or flowers but why not give something that is a bit more meaningful?

Everybody loves a good book! Whether you are looking for a unique hostess gift, something for the office gift exchange or the perfect gift to give to that someone special, a book is always well received.

To make it easier for you, we have put together the Ultimate Book Lover’s Gift Guide. There is something for everyone on your list. From Inspirational to fun reads and titles for the younger readers (or young at heart). And, hey, you may even find something for yourself!


stackedBooks Over iT – Mary Buchan

We all have an “iT” to get over, some challenge in life that seems difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. This may be a problem with health, a past trauma, or stressful situation in our finances or career. Sometimes the “iT” stems from broken relationships or negative judgments we’ve encountered during our journey. In this award winning book Mary combines lighthearted personal stories with ancient wisdom keys. She shares life-changing insights that will help you drive away the dark shadows from your life and break free from whatever is holding you back from your full potential. These keys transformed Mary and they can change your life! Great gift that can be bought here. Buy here



Deborah Hall

Million Dollar Moments – Deborah L. Hall

What if everything you’ve ever been taught is a lie? What if we’ve been living under false assumptions? How can we know for sure? How can we find the truth? Today’s internet bombards us with daily information creating cognitive dissonance as we struggle with who to trust and what to believe. Million Dollar Moments sorts through the noise of these mixed messages bringing usto the only possible truth: your own truth. In 5 minute bursts of brain change each day, Million Dollar Moments shows you the path to uncover and claim your truth. These daily gems of inspiration will illuminate your values regarding business, love, creativity, and resources while encouraging and supporting you to step into who YOU are! Need a quote for a presentation or a speech? You’ll find some gems on these pages. Need a boost for the day? Open the book randomly to any page and you’ll get the inspiration that is meant just for your eyes for that day. Buy here.


SOAR with Vulnerability – Suzanne Letourneau

This is your book. The book that is inside of you all-ways. We all have a story to tell. In mine, I share how the biggest turning point of my life has opened my heart to receiving the best gift of all – Vulnerability.
Vulnerability works hand in hand with Authenticity. And from the moment you experience your authenticity, your true self, you will not want to be anything else but authentic.
Vulnerability is about daring to be more than who you think you are. Get Curious. Be Outrageous. Buy here.

oh La La! Réalité


Being French – Francois Roland

François Roland is thoroughly, irrepressibly French – Parisian, in fact! His book, Being French! A Frenchman’s Guide to a More Sensual Life, is a memoir as well as a collection of essays about sensuality. In it, Roland shares his own experiences and insights gained from a rich and intense sensual life, and from that perspective, the book proposes to its readers that they envision sensuality from a distinctly French point of view.
What allows some people to have satisfying, harmonious, and happy sensual lives while others are miserable and unfulfilled? Roland came to realize that the French probably handle sensual life quite differently than people elsewhere and maybe with a better prospect of making it delightful, fulfilling, and an integral part of a full and balanced life. Buy his e-book here


LOL;-) Living Out Loud - Veronica Tanzen

An estimated 30 to 40 million North Americans use online dating sites, and the growing industry can now take credit for 17% of all marriages on the continent. Not surprisingly, a myriad of online dating self-help books have popped up on shelves—how-to’s and self-proclaimed success stories of finding a mate. This story is definitely not one of those. Living Out Loud takes you on a fresh and quirky ride through one woman’s attempt to master the science of cyber-dating while navigating her way down the road to finding true love. Start with a once-conflicted, twice-divorced single mother, toss in some humorous self-discovery, sprinkle in a smattering of questionable dating profiles, and wrap it all up in a very colourful package that will make you want to laugh, cry and have you want to read the whole book in one sitting! Just click here for a fun and enjoyable read. Buy here.

Thought Provoking


A God for all seasons

A God for All Seasons – Patti Tingen

Based on Ecclesiastes 3, A God for all Seasons takes the reader on a year long journey, month by month. Starting with winter, the book moves through the natural seasons of the year. Each chapter correlates with a month and offers personal testimony and insights for the various spiritual seasons that we all experience. The theme of the book is that God’s love and presence is with us through every time and every season of our lives. 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Silver Medal Winner in the Christian Non-Fiction Category. Great gift idea for the person of faith that can be bought directly on Amazon.- Buy here.




A River of Tears, The River of Hope – Orit Murad Rehany

A River of Tears The River of Hope centers on the saga of the Two Torah Scrolls, and of an fluent and thriving community living peacefully for 2600 years until World War II and the events of Nazism, anti-Semitism and hatred took place in the ancient region known as the Cradle of Civilization, or modern days Iraq.

A River of Tears The River of Hope follows the enchanting and fascinating Murad family. The Murad family brought to Israel a proud heritage to share with the world including the two Torah Scrolls of their beloved father and grandfather, Rabbi Ezra Murad.

Rabbi Murad’s two Torah Scrolls traveled with the family to Israel. While settling in Israel the Murad family showed us the most valuable elements of hope, drive, and determination as they continued to thrive in Israel and Canada. A River of Tears The River of Hope will welcome readers into the history of the Murad family and their amazing journey from a world filled with oppression and tyranny, to one supported by acceptance and support. Buy here.

Fun Reads


are you kidding me

Are You Kidding Me? – Stacey Gustafson

My Life with an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives, a compilation of hilarious, surprising, and relatable stories. The book reached #4 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for its category during its debut week. Hop into your minivan and get ready to cruise through the crazies of Suburbia! Humorist Stacey Gustafson makes an entertaining tour guide in Are You Kidding Me?, a brash, voyeuristic peek inside the topsy-turvy world of suburban motherhood, midlife madness, and all points in between. If you’ve ever called SWAT on a neighbor, faked a heart attack in church, or pulled your hair out while questioning the sanity of your family, Stacey’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor will resonate with you. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt. Buy here.


Drink Wine and Giggle

Drink Wine and Giggle - Deb Mangolt & Julie Smethurst

(101 ways girlfriends can connect, have fun and be inspired) combines friendship and personal growth in a collection of easy-to-follow activities that have been tested and proven to turn girlfriend get-togethers into life-shifting experiences. The activities in DWAG include short projects, exercises or excursions. The book is divided into four sections—mind, body, soul and funny bone—with twenty-five activities in each. The perfect get-together companion, Drink Wine and Giggle uses the power of girlfriends to inspire women to get the life they deserve. Buy here.



Empowered Women Empowered Women of Social Media

Empowered Women of Social Media – This book is perfect for the woman who is looking to find her VOICE. Finding ones voice means a deep self-discovery of life at its core. Read about women who have used Facebook, Google and Twitter to get support while they were going through breast cancer, midlife crisis and depression. Many women used social media to find their business path and create successful companies.Empowered Women of Social Media is a timeless collection of first time stories written by first time authors. Finding their voice meant writing their story, transcending pain and transforming their life. This book is for you if you are a woman who has been muted from abuse and violence, scared into silence from childhood trauma, or was simply raised to be seen not heard. This book will make a great gift. Buy here.

Laurie Dupar

Inspirational Ways to Succeed with ADHD – Laurie Dupar

The fourth book in the best-selling ADHD Awareness Book Project series, Inspirational Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Real Life Stories and Strategies to Help You Thrive with ADHD is a one-of-a-kind informative and inspirational resource for people with ADHD containing over 100 strategies and stories to empower, enlighten, educate and entertain. Laurie Dupar of Coaching for ADHD asked 40 ADHD experts: “What is your best strategy or story to help people succeed?”Within these pages is that one tip, strategy, resource or story that is the answer or inspiration to help you succeed with ADHD! Buy here.




Find Your Self-Culture – Victoria Lorient-Faibish

Find Your “Self-Culture” takes you on a journey of case studies, exercises and teachings from Victoria Lorient-Faibish’s twenty years of working with clients in her busy practice as a Relationship Expert and Holistic Psychotherapist . Learn to move beyond depression and anxiety, rewire your brain towards profound joy and transform your inner bully into a supportive coach. Learn also how to set healthy boundaries while healing the hurt child within and moving past shame, anger and guilt. This empowering book with facilitate you breaking the cycle of family dysfunction and setting you on the path of self acceptance. Buy here

New Mom’s

10 months

It is Really 10 Months – Natalie Guenter & Kim Schenkelberg

No one ever tells you about all of the crap that happens to you when you’re pregnant. We are three thirty-something women who were fortunate enough to be pregnant at the same time. We began sharing our questions, fears, humor, and experiences through emails, which became a lifeline and virtual support group. We are here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of our experiences. This book is for anyone who wants to have fun, who wants to laugh, who wants to know what it is like to be afraid for your baby, who doesn’t mind poking fun at herself, who can lay it all out there. Even if you never have any intention of being pregnant, you can laugh with us – or at us. Perfect for the mamma to be that can be bought directly from Amazon. Buy here.



Motherhood – JC Little

This is the universal story of motherhood, from the gentle moment of birth to the inevitable letting go. In the playful and poignant simplicity that is her signature style, JC Little has captured the tender bond between mother and child. Motherhood is a timeless picture-book for mothers, sons and daughters of all ages. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Buy here.



Greenmama: Giving your child a healthy start and a greener future – Manda Aufochs Gillespie

What are the most pressing problems facing new parents today? As the world has gotten increasingly complicated, so has parenting. Manda Aufochs Gillespie, The Green Mama, brings 20 years of green consulting, research, and lots of humour to a variety of topics that affect the health and well-being of our children. You’ll find help getting back to the basics at a time when the “basics” are being redefined: clean air, nutritious food, simple play, healthy indoor and outdoor environments, and less stuff.

The Green Mama helps parents become what they were always meant to be: experts on the care of their own children.

[Green Mama] is a how-to book, but it’s also a manifesto of sorts: a manifesto declaring that no corporation or manufacturer is the boss of you, and that you have more control over the development of your family than an advertise-and-buy economy would have you believe.” —Jordan Yerman, Vancouver Observer.
A great gift for a new family! Buy here


Children, Tween and Teens


NEW! PickleWeasel Picture Riddles (Book 1) – JC LittlePickle

What’s that playful PickleWeasel up to? There are 101 tricky PickleWeasel picture riddles to have fun figuring out. Some of the words are easy and some are more of a challenge, with clues in every picture. You can “hide” and “reveal” the answers with your very own thumbs, and the words are inverted, for those who pride themselves on their upside-down reading skills.
Story artist JCLittle has created a wacky, zany, super-fabulous and slightly educational collection of PickleWeasels for kids 8 – 12.
Bonus: Flip the corners of the book to see a little animation, just for laffs. PickleWeasel is a jaunty fellow! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle - Buy here.


Magelica’s Voyage Magelica 1- Louise Courey Nadeau

A Magical Fairy Tale about Believing in Yourself, Love and Positivity. The Perfect Gift for Children This Holiday!

Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the color of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she is transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an exciting adventure of discovery. Come fly with Magelica and discover for yourself the power of imagination, positivity, believing in yourself and love! This first book is part of a trilogy that with touch not only a child’s heart but everyone who reads it.
Magelica’s Gift set includes the beautiful Magelica storybook, and magical feather necklace making it the perfect gift for a child ages 5 -11. Wear the feathers together or share a feather with a best friend. Available in French, English and Spanish. Buy here.

Janie Emaus

Mercury in Retro Love – Janie Emaus

A story about crushes, conflicts and astrological PMS.

When fifteen-year-old, Emma Siegel lays eyes on hottie Evan Randolph, she knows he is the boy for her. Using her school newspaper column, Emmastrology, she deliberately and craftily manipulates the end of his present relationship, and sets herself up to be his new girlfriend. Unfortunately, Emma does not predict the mess she gets herself into.

MERCURY IN RETRO LOVE follows Emma on her journey toward self-awareness. Her unflinching belief in astrology sets up more than a few roadblocks and threatens to derail her friendships with her best friends in the whole world. Available on Amazon. Buy here.

The Last Snowman – JC Littlethe snowman

“This afternoon it snowed. It was probably one of the last snows of the winter, so it was lovely sticky snow…perfect for making a snowman.” So begins the funny and poignant tale of a teenage girl and a dangerously tall snowman.
The LAST Snowman is a book with timeless appeal for children and adults alike. Award-winning story artist JC Little has playfully captured a tender “moment” in family life, marking the ephemeral grace between childhood and adolescence. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, and hardcover direct from the author. Buy here


Can’t decide? Buy the Netflix of Books

E-Go books

UNIQUE Gift for Book Lovers! The e-GO! Library is today’s Top 1,000 Indie eBooks, picked by 5 million avid readers, PLUS 250 Bonus Classics – all on preloaded & portable USB drive. Fiction & non-fiction titles span all genres.

No WiFi or Internet required. Saves downloading time. Holds 3 file formats PDF, Kindle (PRC) and EPUB for Kindle, Nook, iPad, laptop, computer, tablet, and or smartphones too. Works with all devices to enjoy anywhere, anytime! This great gift idea puts 1,250 books in anyone’s pocket. Help them escape boring reading. Find the Best Sellers of tomorrow and discover the undiscovered today. Check out their website here.

From our bookshelf to yours…Have a wonderful holiday season!

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Save Your Sanity

Scary Mommy Blurb R

Scary Mommy Guide to the Holidays

Ah, the holidays! That time of year when the world comes together and falls apart, all at the same time. You know what I mean? Tables are set. Cookies baking. Gravy simmering. Drinks poured.

And all those things you really want to say to THAT relative are wrapped up inside you.

But you’re not going to say them, right? You’re not going to tell your aunt that you haven’t collected tea cups since you were twelve. You’re not going to tell your mother that you’ve already heard the story about the Hanukah of 2002, when the curtains caught on fire. Like a hundred times already.

You’re just going to smile.  And sneak off to the bar and refill your glass with what your grandchildren so lovingly call, “Grandma water.”

If you’re like me, the holidays bring on a  milkshake of emotions.

And, so, to help you get through the hazy maze of November and December, Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy has put together a fantastic book of stories and recipes. And I’m thrilled to be included!

The best part – ALL the authors’ proceeds go feed the homeless.

Just click on the link below and get your copy today!!

Scary Mommy Guide to the Holidays

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A Personal Time Bank

THEN: Changing the Time

Rick's Phone

 NOW : Changing the Time 

With the end of Daylight Savings, I’ve been thinking a lot about Time.  That elusive concept that always seems to pass too slowly when you’re young and way too fast once you’ve crossed the half century mark of your life

I mean, really.  One minute you’re walking down the aisle in a cap and gown and the next you’re wearing a backless gown and being wheeled down the corridor for a colonoscopy.

So, I’ve been thinking.  What if instead of simply turning the clocks back an hour in March and then gaining that hour in October, we could actually save time itself?

If all those hours of Daylight Savings were actually saved in Personal Time Bank accounts.

Every Daylight Savings we would add another hour, not be used until we turned forty or of an age when we could really appreciate time.  Our hours would accumulate and then each fall when we turn the clocks back, we could go to our time bank and withdraw whichever hour we wanted.

Think about it.  You could withdraw an hour from a day in high school when you followed your crush around, waiting for him to smile at you.  To remind yourself of how young love felt.  To help you relate to that hormonal teenage daughter sulking at you from across the kitchen table who wants only to send a text to her boyfriend and not have to listen to you bitch about her lack of respect.

You could withdraw an hour from the day your child was born and relive how it felt to cradle her in your arms.  Before she learned how to talk back.

Or maybe an hour from when you were laid up in bed with a broken bone.  An hour that would remind you to slow down, take a deep breath.  You don’t need to be there for everyone, all the time.

If you were sad over something, you could take a “happy” hour from your bank to remind you of life’s ups and downs.  Perhaps withdraw an hour to help you through a tough situation.  Or even an hour to spend with someone who is no longer with you.

You could revisit the days when we called each other to say hello instead of sending emails.  When a text usually meant a book, a virus referred to something attacking our bodies, and a window was a large opening looking out onto the world.

And let’s take it one step further.  How about being able to withdraw against these hours whenever you needed a few extra minutes to meet a deadline? Instead of rushing from the market to the soccer game to the doctor’s to the office, you could borrow from your Time Bank and make that tightly squeezed day, just a bit easier.

Or maybe even trade hours with your friend to see how it really feels to walk in someone else’s shoes.  Oh, how we could learn to stop judging and just accept each other.

Best of all, we could loan hours to someone whose life is being cut too short.

Oh, the possibilities are limitless.

If only this were possible. But, it’s not. So, I’m going to use this hour for some “me” time.

How about you?



Posted in Banks, Daylight Savings, Memories, time | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

A Story of Best Friends, Cancer & Love

Read me today on Huffington Post and learn what my husband taught me about friendship.

Cancer, Friends and Love

And love those around you, will all your heart!



Posted in Best Friends, Cancer, Friendship, Love | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Sweet. Heat. No Wheat!


Small plate

What with everyone’s particular tastes, allergies and food fetishes, throwing a dinner party these days gets pretty darn complicated. Menu planning can take days.

One good friend is allergic to wheat. Another is allergic to peanuts. A third guest can’t swallow anything too smooth or too grainy. Another one is allergic to sea food. Yet another to diary products.

And me? Well, I’m allergic to cooking itself.  Which poses the biggest problem of all.

How can you have a dinner party, if you don’t cook?

Well, I do have a secret weapon. My husband. Not only does he love to cook, he loves to plan and prep and put on dinner parties extraordinaire, taking everyone’s allergies into consideration. (even mine)

Here is a sampling of some of the hors d’eouvres from our last dinner.


Sweet with Heat and no Wheat (for our gluten free guests)

This one so simply beautiful. Stab a red pepper. Add a mango. A purple onion. And a jalapeño pepper. Remember to cut them all about the same size. A treat for your taste buds.


Liverwurst (don’t make that face. I wasn’t sure about this either, until I tasted it) spread on an organic cracker. Add a dollop of horseradish. Top with a sprig of chives.


Homemade pesto (made with walnuts, not pine) spread on whole wheat cracker. Add a very thin slice of proscuitto.  Add a deliciously juicy apricot.


Thrill of Dill: Dill mustard sauce spread on the cracker of your choice.  Place a slice of yummy lox.  Add a little more dill sauce. Top with fresh dill.


Compliment the meal with the cocktail of your choice.

As you can see, there was something for everyone.

And whether vegan or carnivore. Carb or calorie counter. Lover of wine, water, soda or vodka…

No one is allergic to a view this this!



Stay tuned for the main course….







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Enter now to win! Books, gift certificates & more!

Click below to read my blog about Balancing Acts and to enter the contest.


LASR Badge

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The ABCs of Back to School

OMG! Yes, it’s that time of year already:  BACK TO SCHOOL!

If you’re like me, you leave most thing to the last minute.  You are not alone!



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Then: Big Brother Now: Big Brother

Little brother


Big Brother in camera


It almost seems impossible over fourteen years have passed since the Y2K frenzy.  Remember that?  When the world was going to fall apart at midnight?  Everything connected to a computer, from air traffic controls to sensory operated toilet flushers was going to crash.

The world was going to come to a standstill.

Well, that moment passed with no more than a few glitches.  And here we are in the second decade of the 21st Century.

It’s obvious that we are in the midst of a digitalrevolution.

Why, fourteen years ago, a cell phone was really just a phone.  Now making calls is one of the phone’s most archaic functions.

Old fashioned movies are being replaced by those in 3D.  Holographic movies are in the making.  Someday, our favorite actors will be performing in the middle of our living rooms.

Robots are being developed that will take over household chores such as dusting and sweeping.  Maybe even cooking.  And hopefully, they can take our place on those nights when we feel a “headache” coming on.

E-readers are becoming more and more popular.  It’s inevitable that books will one day go the path of the vinyl record album.  The bookstore where you can browse through the aisles with a cup of coffee and an idea of what you may want to purchase will be a thing of the past.  Books will be sold in antique shops and of course, on eBay or some other futuristic site.  It will be up to the older generation to explain to their grandchildren how readers used to turn the page instead of tapping the screen with their finger.

But what scares me the most about the future is how we will be watched.  Because Big Brother has already arrived.

When I search online for information on “spiders,” the next day I’m bombarded with dozens of pop ups, offering miracle products guaranteed to rid my legs of “spider” veins, asking for money to save the endangered Spruce-fir moss “spider,” and information on the entire cast of the Spiderman movies.  For days on end, my inbox is crammed with everything and anything to do with insects.

It can only get worse from here.

Someone, somewhere, out there in cyberspace is recording every one of our keystrokes.  And that someone has a database from which to pull information that can be used for any number of things.  Advertising is just one of them.  Perhaps the least harmful.  We can ignore them if we want.

What if someday we’re prohibited from going to certain schools or holding a certain job because we prefer roasted chicken over baked?  Or because of our blood type?  Or because we like to do it doggie-style rather than in the missionary position?

It’s a scary thought.  Something I have no control over.

But I do  have control over how I act. And if someone, something, somewhere is watching my every move, I better make my life something interesting to watch!







Posted in Big Brother, Computers, Futuristic | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Top 10 Things I learned at BlogHer

Blogher Award

I am unable to attend this year. But here is my Top Ten List of things I learned at the last conference.  I hope everyone going has a great time!

10. For several days following the conference you will amble around BlogHerized. Definition: The mindboggling state of sorting through the Who, Where, Why & When of What you experienced at the conference.

9. Some bloggers will look exactly like their online photos. Others will look like older versions of themselves. Some may even resemble the foods, flowers or fetishes they blog about.

8. The words “free” and “food” do not always go well together in a sentence or in one’s digestive system.

7. Speaking of free – all that SWAG could cost almost $100.00 to take home.  Note: I hope that nice TSA gentleman with the friendly smile got lucky with his wife for bringing her a bottle of Windex and some Trojan lubricant.

July 2013 149

6. During keynote speaker presentations some people will snicker under their breath, while others will find themselves crying. Which only goes to demonstrate the subjectivity of the entire business of blogging. You can’t to appeal to everyone.

5. It’s dangerous to carry a Voices of The Year poster through the hall, up the elevator, and across the lobby. This behavior can only be performed with “real live”  friends. Beware- a lasting bound will most definitely be formed.

Blogher Friends


4. “What’s your Twitter handle?” is to bloggers as “What’s your sign” is to strangers meeting in a bar.  Sometimes neither of them make much sense.

3.Sharing a bathroom with an online friend will turn them into someone you hope you get to see again soon.

2. 99.5% of bloggers want to write a book. My advice: Do it. But grow a thick skin. And nurture your patient side. There is no such thing as Instant Gratification in the world of publishing.

And the number one thing I learned is: 

You are not your blog. You are not your ranking. Or your SEO. But one woman writing. Writing something you want the world to hear. And if you can give someone an “aha” moment, get them to realize they are not alone, or make them laugh, then you’ve done your job as a blogger.

Have fun!


Posted in Blogging, BlogHer, Friendship, writing | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments