Ok, let’s talk photography. You love taking pictures right?

That digital camera is awesome and you get instant satisfaction on seeing the thousands of photos right away. I know, I know me too.

This book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Photography Essentials by Mark Jenkinson is a necessary read for anyone who loves taking pictures.

What I loved the most is how basic (well, I guess the fact that it’s an idiots guide should have been my first clue) and fundamental this book is.

I must admit, I hate reading well, non-novel (heck, is that even a word) books . I hate reading about how something works or how to learn something, self help books kill me. I just want to jump in and use, do, learn. I don’t want to read about it.

I read this book from cover to cover. Why? Because not only do you get basic knowledge like understanding the basic science behind how a camera works but you get tips on everything from editing your images, to shooting in any kind of light and everything in between.

Things like:

  • Use of light and shadow
  • The difference between shooting in film and shooting digital
  • Angle
  • The difference between JPEG’s and RAW files
  • Vantage points
  • Composition (the rule of 3rds – I am totally using this rule when I shoot these days)
  • Adjusting depth of field
  • Shooting moving objects
  • and more

My favorite part of the book, were all the pictures 150 total. Using pictures with a description is a great learning tool.

Reading this book is like taking a photography class. This is a must have for anyone who wants to take amazing pictures.

It also made me want to return to my beloved expensive 35mm sitting in a protective bag in the closet. As Mark states, can you really



I was fortunate enough to be sent a copy of the most amazing children’s storybook by the author herself, Debbie Glade. Debbie saw a calling for smart, fun, creative children’s books after having her daughter. She also wanted to get them interested in travel and geography. This book is all that and then some.
Introducing: The Travel Adventures of Lilly P. Badilly. This is a beautifully illustrated book, complete with a CD which brings the characters to life as you and your child reads along.
The Travel Adventures of Lilly P. Badilly is about a millipede named Lilly and her grandparents who decide to leave their home at Miami’s International Airport and travel to Costa Rica. Along the way Lilly has to confront her biggest fears in order to save the lives of herself, her family and her friends.
My children (3 & 5) have listened to the CD at least 5 times in 2 days. After the 2nd time listening to the CD, my kids knew the word “despise” (Lilly uses it) and that her Grandpa Joe farts. They laughed so loud the first 3 times that I had to stop the CD so they wouldn’t miss anything. Now they quietly look at each other when their favorite parts come up and laugh.
As for myself, I love the book. It is a children’s book you can get behind. The illustrations are colorful and very detailed, you can ask a lot of open ended questions when you just look at the pictures to build on the story. I love that. I also love each characters voice, the little songs and the music. I would give this book to my nieces and nephews as a gift and know for a fact they would love it.
More than this book being a great, funny, exciting, read for you and your kids is the fact that making of the book and CD was a family project. Debbie wrote and illustrated the story and then along with her daughter created the music. Debbie wrote the words for the songs while her daughter composed the music. Dad had a part in there too, he played the guitar and harmonica as well as sang for Grandpa Joe. Got to love a family that plays, urrr…I mean works together.
For more on Debbie, the making of the CD, to hear a sample song and to purchase the book head on over to Lillybadilly.com
Also, you can see sample pages complete with audio here.
NOTE: Teachers – This is a great book for elementary classes. They will love the pictures and the story.
P.S. – I cannot get the second song out of my head, singing it right now actually.

I am honored to have read Seven Easy Tips: Encouraging Your Daughter to Say “No” by Alyssa Dees Avant.

My daughter is 3 years old but I am a firm believer that the student learns better if the teacher starts early, so this book really spoke to me. Last week I had a mommy/child play date with 3 other moms who all have daughters we discussed purity and teaching our children (boys and girls) to say “no” to outside sources such as peer pressure from friends, or the media.

When our children are younger we are the only influence they have. We set the tone, we tell them what’s right, what’s wrong, what they can do, what is acceptable but eventually they enter the world of school and get input from so many sources. It is during this time that parents tend to take more of a backseat to their child’s world.

WRONG This is exactly the time that we NEED to be a co-pilot. Our job as parents is to make sure that our children know what is acceptable and what is expected of them. Alyssa’s book is filled with excellent points for any parent of a boy or girl.

I especially appreciate Alyssa’s Better Alternative section in Seven Easy Tips: Encouraging Your Daughter to Say “No”“Having an open door policy at your home for your daughter and her friends will help to encourage her to participate in fun, adult supervised activities that will not endanger her.”

On a bigger note: This book is also for parents whose daughter’s may have already disappointed them. Alyssa writes, “Don’t give up on her!”

Some people can be put off by religious overtures or something being too preachy but that is not THIS book people. Alyssa is a mother, a writer, a blogger, a pod caster, a business owner who had a calling to make a difference in the lives of young girls. Seven Easy Tips: Encouraging Your Daughter to Say “No” is chock full of easy tools to instill a sense of self worth, importance and respect for themselves that I have not read anywhere else.

You can get this book and others at her website.

Also, sign up for her Mom/Daughter Connection EZine and check out her suggestions on theme events for a great time and more, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

If you leave her a message, be sure to congratulate her on her brand new baby which hopefully will be here any moment.

Last night I finished Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald and after P.S. I Love You I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It is about Tamila, a 27 year old Iranian women who comes to America for 3 months on a birthday Visa from her parents to find a husband and stay in the States.
She stays with her older sister and her sister’s husband, takes an English class, goes to Starbucks, and falls in love with America, her freedom and an American.
I liked this book for a couple of reasons. Tamilia is likable, the characters are interesting, the
story witty, her potential husbands comical but the biggest reason is that I was reminded of how much I love my freedom. As an American I know we take this for granted. I try not to but I don’t think we realize just how lucky we are to live in a Country where we have choices.
It was interesting looking through the eyes of someone who never knew freedom and watching her amazement as she acquaints herself with the freedom she and everyone should have if they so desire.
Her reactions to police, her friends, a free sample at Starbucks and sneakers were uplifting, humorous and captivating.
The ending was somewhat predictable and I wish that the conclusion I was hoping for, played out longer than the last 4 pages. I was happy with the ending and reminded of how “free” we really are.

Amateur Book Review – P.S. I Love You

I finished P.S. I Love You By Cecelia Ahern about 3 days and have been putting this post together since.

In 4 words, I didn’t like it.

I was loaned this book by a dear friend who also didn’t like it, however, like me wanted to see how it ended.

For me, the concept was great but the story was about 300 pages longer than it needed to be.

Writing was wordy, too many characters without story lines, and the main character lack depth.

The book was an International best seller, that was made into a movie with Hillary Swank, and I am still not sure why, other than the book was written so detailed (and not in a good way) it could be a movie script.
The premise of the book was very mature. Holly’s husband passes away from a brain tumor and leaves her envelopes to open every month to help her cope with his passing. The writing though was wordy, dialogue was unnecessary and juvenile.

Never did I feel compassion for Holly, I couldn’t stand her or her friends. Also, the million members of her family were completely unnecessary and I truly hated the anti climatic ending.

I would love to see this concept done by another author and I am interested in seeing the movie which I hear is quite different than the book. I should hope so.

I wrote this over at My Chotskie Blog but wanted to share it here.

Last night I finished Steve & Me and it was fantastic. The book was written by Terri Irwin only a few months after she buried her beloved husband.
I can’t image that there isn’t someone who doesn’t know who Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin was.

This is a love story without all of the wishy washy words. Terri gave us snippets of their life together. Telling us the story as she would tell her children. I can’t imagine that anyone else would have been right for Steve in his lifetime. Terri and Steve had a connection that was built on respect, love and a mutual desire to make this world a better place for the animals on our planet. They were obviously soul mates from the moment they met and I really respect Terri and the strength she shows everyday in keeping up the Australia Zoo and following through with Steve’s dreams for the future.
Maybe it is because I actually loved Steve, maybe it because of the passion and enthusiasm he exhibited every time you heard him speak about animals, or maybe it is because I am an incurable romantic who hopes that that everyone could have a love like Terri and Steve. Perhaps it is all that and more or none of it. What I do know, is that this is a fantastic book, well worth reading. If we didn’t already know what a special individual Steve Irwin is, Terri shows us why. She honors him on every page and I can only hope that she put out another book when she has had more time to heal. There must be tons more stories about the man who left this world as a legend.
It is impossible to imagine how she managed that first moment when she heard that her soul mate was gone. Having to tell her kids that their personal “superhero” would not be coming home is actually unimaginable to me. If he seemed untouchable to me what must he have seemed like to his children?
I can remember the day I heard that Steve Irwin had died (I actually wrote about it on my son’s blog). I was devastated and worried about Terri and Bindi. I knew that his son was too young to actually get the whole thing but if anyone ever saw Steve with Bindi, you knew that they had a love that was palpable.
I found myself looking back at the pictures included in the book about 20 times in the few days it took me to read it. I actually talk about Steve to my kids often. We love watching Bindi The Jungle Girl and I am pushing for a Bindi birthday party for my almost 3 year old.
I had done a 5th sentence meme on this book last week and seriously don’t want to say good-bye to it. I will think about Steve and his family for long time.