The Modern Salad by Elizabeth Howes

I love salads but I especially love salads that are more than just a side dish with my dinner. I love when you can be left completely satisfied with a salad full of crunchy, healthy textures and colors that are more like a feast. The Modern Salad Innovative New American and International Recipes Inspired by Burma's Iconic Tea Leaf Salad by Elizabeth Howes is all that!

In this beautiful, colorful cookbook with 35+ receipes about the almighty salad Elizabeth shows us there is more to it than just washing off some lettuce and cutting up some tomatoes and cucumbers.

Salad or ensalada as my Mother-In-Law would say has endless possibilities. I love eating whole food and creating these salads makes me want to go back to my Sunday pre day where I cook for the week and lay out my plate ready to grab and go.

I was starving as I looked at photo after photo of mouthwatering salads containing watermelon, farro, shaved asparagus, spiraled sweet potato, figs, caramelized onions, grilled peaches and more.

Elizabeth broke the book down into categories:

Noodles, Grains and Legumes
Fish and Seafood
Chicken, Turkey and Duck
Pork and Beef
Building the Pantry (picked ginger, Chile oil, Roasted Peanuts, etc).

Here are just a few of the photos from the book

Don't they look incredible?

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary product for my honest opinion. My reviews are 100% honest and true based on my personal opinion not on a company’s description or request. I am not employed by any company I review for. No monetary compensation was received.

When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrifty Umrigar and Illustrated by Ziyue Chen #WhenICarried

The special bond between a mother and her child begins well before the baby is born. But once the baby is born and starts to grow into her own person, traits from both parents begin to show themselves in delightful and humorous ways. When I Carried You in My Belly is a mother's song to her growing daughter, capturing the warmth and magic of the time when her daughter was housed inside her belly. The girl's laugh, her love of music, her sweet disposition, and her carefree attitude can all be traced back to her time in her mother's tummy, when her mother would laugh, sing songs, eat yummy treats, and dance the day away.

Thrity Umrigar's lyrical and playful text are well complemented by Ziyue Chen's soft and delightful illustrations, and together they create a sentimental and insightful book about the special bond between parents and children. With a similar tone to On the Night You Were Born and the spirit of I Loved You Before You Were Born, When I Carried You in My Belly is primed to become a new timeless classic.
  • Thrity Umrigar is the bestselling author of a memoir and six novels, including The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and The Story Hour. Her books have been published in over fifteen countries. A winner of the Nieman fellowship to Harvard University, she has written for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and the Boston Globe. She is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins award. She is the Armington Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

    Ziyue Chen grew up in sunny Singapore and graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in illustration. Her work has been recognized in the 3x3 Picture Book Show (2014), SCBWI’s SI Scholarship (2013), the Society of Illustrators’ Student Scholarship Show (2013), and Creative Quarterly (2012). When she’s not creating art, Ziyue enjoys teaching art, swimming, and spending time with loved ones.
The 411:

I adore this book. The words and the illustrations. It speaks to my heart and I believe it is the perfect gift for first time moms as a Mother's Day or a Baby Shower Gift. In this story a mother loving relays to her daughter why stories of when she was carried in her belly and how it correlates with why she is the lovely child she is today.

"When I carried you in my belly, we fed kittens out of saucers, baked bread for our neighbors, and hung bird feeders on the trees and that is why you have the biggest heart in the world."

Beside these sweet, loving words and the cutest illustrations ever by Ziyue Chen which I couldn't help sharing with my Instagram followers last week. Gorgeous!

A post shared by Maria (@mgagliano5) on

My children are 11 and 13 and still love hearing the stories of when I was pregnant with them. I just wish I was as poetic as Thrifty when I share with them.

You will find this in my upcoming Mother's Day Gift Guide and at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, Indie Books or wherever books are sold.

To Purchase: Pre-order below

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary product for my honest opinion. My reviews are 100% honest and true based on my personal opinion not on a company’s description or request. I am not employed by any company I review for. No monetary compensation was received.

The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential - A REVIEW

Are you concerned or frustrated with the choices your child makes when it comes to their peer groups, study habits, and use of social media?

Do you feel your child is pushing you away and your connection is weakening?

Are you unsure of the next steps you should take to help your child succeed?

A whole new set of parenting concerns arise during tween and teenhood that can be overwhelming for any parent. The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens offers a step-by-step plan for raising your adolescent through this tumultuous time. Douglas Haddad provides specific, proven tools for you to help your child become a problem solver and grow to be smart, successful, and self-disciplined.

In The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens, you will:
  • Discover the secrets of effective communication with your child
  • Learn the techniques to stop behavior problems right in their tracks when they happen
  • Know the strategies to best motivate your child and unlock their potential
  • Find out how to set appropriate limits and hold your child accountable for their actions
  • Understand today’s “child-limiting challenges” and the solutions for handling them with your child

Every parent wants the best for their child, and these years can be fraught with challenges: bullying, violence, gambling, sex, smoking, alcohol, substance use, eating disorders, depression, suicide, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, etc. Making sense of these challenges, this book offers exercises for incorporating the ten child unlimited tools into your parenting style and anecdotes to illustrate strategies and techniques. Supported by current research, the tools found in these pages will serve as a guide for any family with tweens or teens.

The 411:

This month during lunch I sat down to read The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential. I tried not to fill it with highlighter, post-its or paperclips and resorted to just jotting down some of the take away points that resonated with me.

I am in the midst of tweendom and teendom with my two babies and anything that will help me help them is important to me.  Douglas Haddad has created the perfect bible for parents of Teens and Tweens. It is broken down by sections that you will expect and some you didn't even think of.

Use Empathy And Consequences
Be The Boss By Sharing Power With Your Child
Be Cool and See The Child In You
Be On A Positive Wavelength With Your Child
Give Your Child The License To Leadership And Problem Ownership
Use The Right Style To Shape Your Child
Have Your Child Achieve The Goal By Ready, Set, Grow
Youth Violence
Eating Disorders

Parents should have this book!  YOU NEED TO READ THIS!
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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary product for my honest opinion.  My reviews are 100% honest and true based on my personal opinion not on a company’s description or request. I am not employed by any company I review for. No monetary compensation was received.

Q&A with Douglas Haddad, Author of “The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens”

“Douglas Haddad delivers parents a no fail approach to raising children. If you could read only one book to help children become successful and reach their unlimited potential, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens has everything you need and is the one to get!” -Jack Canfield, multiple #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul ® series, success coach, and human potential thought leader.

The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens By Douglas Haddad

 Raising teens and tweens to become healthy, loving, and independent individuals is a process filled with pitfalls and challenges -- from bullying, drugs, sex, and peer pressures to unrelenting societal demands, endless technology challenges, and negative parental or school influences. Award-winning educator Douglas Haddad, who has helped thousands of middle school students transition from being kids into young adults, presents a forceful, insightful, and inspiring guide for parents, educators, and caretakers to use to help raise the newest generation in his latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential (Rowman & Littlefield, February 2017, ISBN: 978-1-4422-5695-8; 286 pages).

“Children are living in a ‘war on childhood,’ where problems no longer are viewed as opportunities to problem-solve, but rather an ‘enrichment opportunity’ at every turn,” asserts Doug. “Our children are over-scheduled, distracted by technology, and exposed to so much so fast. We need to help overwhelmed parents and educators to navigate this overwhelming, frenetic-paced society.”
Doug identified 10 tools to nurturing smart, successful, and self-disciplined teens and tweens, including:

Be the boss by sharing power with your child
Use empathy and consequences
Kick your kid’s butt effectively – but not literally
Give your child the license to problem ownership
Get your kid iMotivated
1. What inspired you, after teaching for over 15 years to write a book on raising healthy teens and tweens?

Being around teens and tweens as a teacher, mentor, and coach for 17 years, I have seen the array of challenges that children are faced with. In addition to the traditional problems that have affected children for generations and continue to affect them today, technology has opened up a new can of concerns in which kids are partaking in inappropriate and unsafe behaviors. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that a child’s ability to effectively communicate, resolve conflict, solve problems, and persevere through challenges have diminished over the years. Seeing that and also being actively involved in students’ lives as a teacher, my goal in writing this book is to equip parents with the tools necessary to help their children navigate through challenges and rise up against adversity to achieve their potential.

2. What are the 3-5 takeaways from your book?

In The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens, parents will:

Discover the secrets of effective communication with their children and learn the techniques to stop behavior problems right in their tracks when they happen.

Know the strategies to best motivate their children and unlock their potential.

Find out how to set appropriate limits and hold their children accountable for their actions.

Understand all of today’s “child-limiting challenges” and strategies for preventing and intervening to best handle them with their children.

Apply the 10 specific, proven “child unlimited” tools on a regular basis with teens and tweens to help them unlock their full potential to become smart, successful, and self-disciplined individuals and have a strong connection with their child for a lifetime.

3. What are some of the 10 steps identified in your book to unlocking your child’s full potential?

Avoid unnecessary power struggles by using empathy and providing natural consequences when rules are broken through the “R.E.V. method”

Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Going back and remembering the daily pressures that kids this age face is important in relating with your child. Once a child knows that you truly care and that they are being heard, a child will be more apt to open up and communicate their concerns or come to you for advice.

Be a role model and behaving in a manner that you expect your child to behave is fundamental to getting the desired behavior in your child.

Demonstrate effective conflict resolution and problem-solving skills for your child.

Discipline your child using the “C.A.L.M. technique.”

Use strategies to set goals and increase a child’s motivation.

4. If you were a parent, do you think your book would be written differently?

If I were a parent, I would possibly include anecdotes and highlight different situations from my own personal experiences. However, the scope of this book is coming from a teacher’s perspective, as I wanted to take advantage of the unique position that I am in as an educator, mentor, former coach, and someone who witnesses peer interactions and personal struggles with children on a regular basis for seven to eight hours a day. My goal in this book is to provide parents with an insight into the day-to-day issues that tweens and teens experience, as seen through the lens of an educator who “raised” over 2,000 students, and offer strategies to simplify parenting in a fast-paced society and help them better connect with their children and navigate them toward achieving their full potential.

5. You were named teacher-of-the-year in your school district. What does it take to motivate, teach, and grow middle school students?

Connections, care, and compassion are at the core of my practice as an educator and are the key ingredients to help motivate, teach, and grow middle school students. The old adage, “A kid doesn’t care how much you know until he/she knows how much you care” is so true. Finding a way to connect with all children in a genuine, meaningful way through care, compassion, humor, and storytelling or just being a lending ear for students when they need it, all while creating a safe classroom environment, can make the world of difference. By putting myself out there in a vulnerable state by acting, singing and dancing, my students come to know that I am not afraid to take chances, be real, show vulnerability and would do anything for them to succeed.

6. Why is adolescence an important state in a child’s development?

This is the period in life when children test boundaries, strive for independence, seek to be understood, become curious about the opposite sex, place greater importance on image and being accepted among their peers, engage in different risky behaviors, and develop lifestyle habits that will be carried with them throughout adulthood. In order for parents to have the best chance at raising a smart, successful, and self-disciplined child, they need to be aware of the challenges that their children face and possess strategies to help their children cope to best prevent them from making poor decisions along with techniques on how to intervene in a crisis. Additionally, making connections with children and being actively involved is paramount to them developing good fiber and lifelong habits of success.

7. You note there are many potential pitfalls for the new generation, from addiction, sex, and alcohol to gambling and violent video games. How does today’s parent navigate through this minefield?
Applying the “child unlimited tools” in this book, on a daily basis, will help all parents establish effective communication with their child and apply strategies to regularly and openly discuss the different challenges and pressures that their children face. In turn, this will facilitate a strong, lasting relationship that is rooted in trust. By applying these tools, parents can help their children become good problem-solvers, map out and set meaningful goals, develop resiliency skills to persevere through adversity, and learn and practice coping mechanisms that are non-destructive and emphasize self-responsibility. By spending quality time with a child and displaying a genuine care, interest, patience, and support over a child’s lifetime, a lasting positive impact can be made in a child’s life.

8. Bullying seems to be a huge burden in schools today. Are things improving there?

Creating a school climate around tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures is critical to preventing bullying. Everyone in a school community from principals, teachers, counselors, custodial staff, food service workers, and bus drivers contribute in creating a safe and caring school climate. Having a zero-tolerance policy at school for bullying is crucial toward stopping bullying in its tracks. However, bullying often takes place where adult supervision is lacking such as in the halls, bathrooms, lunchrooms, locker rooms, and on the bus. Involving the entire community - in particular the parents - helps with bullying prevention efforts. With all of the different social media available to kids today, cyberbullying is on the rise and parents need to know how to monitor their child’s online activities.

9. You were bullied as a kid and you see it happen in school when you’re teaching. What do you recommend can be done to tackle this problem?

When I was bullied, I was unable to find help from teachers or friends at school to end bullying. I was lacking strategies to stop these bullying behaviors from recurring. To tackle this problem, I would recommend creating a school climate that is positive and encourages children to speak up if they experience or witness bullying behavior. The environment should be accepting of all individuals and reward students for standing up and doing the right thing. I feel that if schools implement a mandatory life skills and success course for all students (k-12), then kids would understand from a young age the negative impact that bullying has on others and on themselves. Being taught leadership and coping strategies, and how to avoid being a bystander, can save someone from becoming a victim from bullying.

10. Do parents lose their moral authority when they fail to model the behavior they desire from their child?

Children can become perplexed when parents say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Younger children think in absolutes. “If Daddy does it, then why can’t I?” Modeling the behavior that parents desire from their children is the most powerful thing that parents can do to shape their child’s behavior. It is important for both parents to be on the same page when it comes to messages, as to avoid “good cop/bad cop” parenting. If your actions are not something you wish for your child to model, it is important to take ownership for your behaviors. Telling the truth to your child and taking responsibility for shortcomings, failures, or poor choices may feel uncomfortable, but empowers you and shows your child that you care to change and do what is best.

11. What does it mean to get a kid to be motivated?

Getting a kid motivated means that he/she is willing to work hard, on their own accord, to achieve a task or goal. Introducing different activities help spark a child in discovering their interests in life. A child’s ability to persist and continue with a task, despite obstacles in their way, is a sign of an intrinsically motivated child. Children who experience success at a challenging task tend to display positive, engaged emotion and welcome more challenging tasks. Children who possess a high level of motivation have a low dependency on adults and do not seek adult approval or assistance in helping with tasks. They are not doing something in order to receive a reward such as money, candy, a toy, or excessive praise, but for the internal feeling of satisfaction.

12. How should a parent shape his or her parenting style based on their child’s personality and skill set?

There are different parenting styles that can be used based on a child’s unique personality. Research has shown that the most effective strategy involves a high parental demandingness and responsiveness and that an equal level of providing strict discipline and expressing love, warmth, and affection is the foundation for effective parenting. However, it is important to understand the different ways that children are interested in the world around them - whether they are extroverted or introverted - the different ways they gather, evaluate, and organize information to perceive their world. These are good predictors of how children deal with different life experiences and react to various situations. Furthermore, birth order affects personality and it is important to take that into consideration with your parenting style.

To Purchase:

Is It Time for a New Family Vehicle?

Part of a being a parent is making sure your children (and yourself and spouse for that matter) are able to get around to the various necessities in life.

Such important responsibilities as work, getting kids to school, going to doctor appointments and grocery shopping etc. all take up much of a parent’s time.

That said how you transport you and your family to those tasks and many others for that matter can be tricky at times.

For instance, what if there is only one family vehicle to handle all of these responsibilities? What if that vehicle has a propensity for breaking down? Lastly, what if the time has come to start shopping around for a brand new or used car or truck?

As you can see, there is much that goes into being a parent, so driving forward with a less stressful life should certainly be one of your goals.

Shopping for a New Car or Truck

In the event the time has come for you to consider purchasing another family vehicle, where exactly should you start?

The best starting point is usually by sitting down and figuring out what kind of budget you have to work with.

For example, if money is rather tight at the moment, you’re probably better off either buying a used vehicle or considering looking at purchasing a car or truck from a rental agency. When it comes to the latter item, numerous rental car companies will end up selling some of their vehicles for the right price in order to lessen their inventories.

In looking at a used vehicle, the biggest trouble spot to steer clear of is buying a lemon. Remember, you are getting someone’s vehicle, a vehicle that may have very well been taken care of or just the opposite.

Finally, don’t be afraid to dig in and do some solid online research, research that could save you some hassles over time.

One way to go about this is by checking the identity of the vehicle and driver.

When in need of a license plate lookup, you can use one of the services out there which will provide you with vehicle search information. That information can give you the model and make of the vehicle, along with any safety (see more below) and recall details etc.

So, the more information you have about a used vehicle you may buy, the better off you should be in terms of avoiding a disaster.

Never Put a Price on Safety

In searching for a new family vehicle, always remember that you can never put a price on safety.

While your intent is likely to save whatever money you can, don’t let it come at the cost of compromising your family’s safety. Just as the home you live in should be as safe as can be for you and your children, the same holds true with any vehicle you ride in.

If you opt for a used vehicle over one just off the assembly line, it is important that you have a trusted mechanic look at any used vehicle you consider purchasing. Even if the current owner says the vehicle is in fine working order, can you trust them entirely?

While many looking to sell vehicles will be on the up-and-up, some unfortunately will be looking to drive off with the money, knowing they’re dumping a bad car or truck to someone else.

Lastly, don’t be in a rush to purchase that vehicle, even if you are currently struggling with your transportation needs.

The worst thing you can do is rush into a vehicle purchase, something that may drive you nuts for years to come.


Episcopal Center for Children, a Treatment and Special Education Center in DC, Offers Advice for Families Supporting Children Coping with Special Needs


WASHINGTON– Spring is here and it’s a great time for families with children to spend time outdoors and together.  The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization providing mental health and special education services to children ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers tips to help families.
Being active as a family can benefit everyone. Adults need at least two and a half hours a week of physical activity, and children need 60 minutes a day.

“Several studies have shown that being outside and staying active improves health and well-being for adults and children,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “For families supporting children with unique needs, doing activities together outside can promote positive behavior, relieve stress, improve focus, and help everyone in the family be mentally and physically healthier.”

Tip #1 –Set specific activity times for your family. Find time slots throughout the week when your whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activities together outside. Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.

Tip #2 – Get outside and get moving. Take your dog for a walk. Play “I spy” while walking somewhere. Play in the park or go to the community center. Play tag, hopscotch, or jump rope.

Tip #3 – Cope with any anxieties. If a child is anxious about going outside, bring along a favorite snack and anything familiar and comforting that can help extend “safe” feelings into the outdoors. Take a Teddy Bear Hike where each child brings a favorite stuffed animal along for the adventure.

Tip #4 – Use technology as a supportive tool. Technology can help children coping with special needs transition from indoors to outdoors and help them explore nature. For example, encourage them to use a digital recorder (or your cell phone) to record bird songs, a babbling stream and other pleasing sounds in your yard, the park, or along a trail. When you are back indoors, your child can use these recordings to calm themselves and reduce anxieties.

Tip #5 – Use tech gear to focus. Smartphones, digital cameras and binoculars are a great filter for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or autistic spectrum disorders. These items can help them focus on a single feature being observed and remove the extraneous visual stimulation around them.

Tip #6 – Start small. Begin by introducing one new family activity and then add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.
Tip #7 – Use school activities as a jumping board for family activities. Talk about what your children learned at school in gym or physical education class. Ask them to show you what they learned. Help them practice.

Tip #8 – Build new skills. Try yoga, mindfulness practices or dance as a family. There are free resources on the internet and special classes in some communities designed for families and for individuals coping with special needs. Enroll your children in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics or other sports. Encourage them to practice and go to their activities as a family.

Tip #9 – Plan ahead. Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let your children help plan the activities. Allow them to check it off after the activity is completed.

Tip #10– Plan for all weather conditions. Have some ideas for indoor activities on standby in case the weather does not cooperate. Try mall walking, indoor basketball, or active video games or board games.
“Once you start getting outside regularly with your child, you will begin to see the results. Symptoms of anxiety, depression and acting out can lessen,” said White. “Self-esteem, focus and participation in social settings may improve too. And hopefully, you’ll be feeling better too.”

About the Episcopal Center for Children
The Episcopal Center for Children (Center) is a nonprofit, nondenominational school and treatment program for children contending with emotional challenges from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center serves children who are 5-14 years old in grades K-8. The goal of the Center’s treatment, therapeutic milieu, and individualized special education program is to empower each child to function productively within his or her family and community. Building on strengths within children, the Center partners with families in treatment and focuses on enabling its students to access and become their best possible selves. More information is available at and on Twitter and Facebook @ECCofDC.

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