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Numbrix 9 – December 17

Tue, 12/16/2014 7:00 PM
Categories: Entertainment

Christmas Comes Early for Hallmark Channel

Tue, 12/16/2014 3:55 PM

The Hallmark Channel may be known as “the holiday channel”, but this year, thanks to its Twelve New Movies of Christmas, impressively soaring viewer numbers gave the Hallmark team an early Christmas present. I recently caught up with Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming and network publicity for Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, to discuss their programming mission and the positive audience responses that added even more Christmas spirit to the Hallmark brand.

Last month, Vicary’s network was rated #1 for women in the 25 to 54-year-old demographic. As of last week, 15 million viewers had enjoyed the original movie North Pole, and Christmas Under Wraps, starring Candace Cameron Bure, scored the network its record number of viewers. Says Vicary, “To have our original movie Christmas Under Wraps become the #1 movie in the history of the network is a phenomenal feeling and a phenomenal team effort across the entire organization– in addition to being the highest rated cable movie of all cable for the year.”

Christmas Under Wraps airs again on Sunday, December 20th at 6 pm / 5c

Social media reflects that many fans are repeat viewers. “Not only are we seeing more people come to watch us, they’re staying with us and watching more and more movies each year,” notes Vicary. The network executive believes that this response reflects the fact that viewers want to have a positive Hallmark-esque experience. “We’re not afraid to deliver on the Hallmark experience and that does mean walking away feeling a little bit better, feeling a little bit changed, and a little bit happier. And it does deliver on what people are looking for at this time of the year.”

Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming and network publicity for Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel.

Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries are skilled at bringing cross-generational viewing options to television. Vicary admits that families are a big piece of their Christmas and post-holiday success– and she and the network couldn’t be happier. “It really is rewarding to see families sitting down together with their kids and with their parents and with their grandparents and having a real true family viewing experience.”

Watch North Pole on Wednesday, December 24th at 10 pm / 9c

While the executive agrees that there is a place for non-Hallmark-like content, she notes that her team isn’t “necessarily looking to be edgy, or dark, or be issues-oriented as much as we are celebrating the human condition and the human spirit.” Says Vicary, “We do think that it’s important to tell stories about people who learn a little something about themselves and the people around them.” Because of this, families have entertainment options that include the opportunity to dialogue about relationships and social interactions.

Of course there’s no Christmas break for the team at the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. Vicary spilled the beans on the 2015 plans, and, let’s just say, there must be a very large team of magic-making elves helping to make these projects happen. “We will have original content– an original premiere episode, a series, or movies every Saturday night throughout the entire year for Hallmark Channel and for Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.” From Valentine’s Day to June weddings, the team seems to be rolling out more original content than Stephen King (and a lot less scary!). And Vicary promises the 2015 holiday season will be even bigger. “We’ve got 14 [original movies] on the development plate so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that number inches up closer to 20 across the two networks.” Merry Christmas!

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Categories: Entertainment

There’s Still Time to Enter to Win!

Tue, 12/16/2014 3:46 PM

If you didn’t get a chance to read my latest holiday book gift guides (which can all be found here), but still want to enter to win a book, there’s still time! Take a look below and tweet me your entry. You can also email your entry (one email per book title, please) to ParadeConnie@gmail.com. Entry deadline for all book giveaways is December 31st. Winner will be chosen at random and I’ll message you with the info.

The Complete Far Side ($100.00; ISBN: 1449460046)

When I was younger, I remember flipping to the comics every morning just to see what the latest panel  of Far Side would bring. I still chuckle when I fondly think such images Gary Larson imparted on us of “Cat Showers” and “Midvale School for the Gifted” or “Social Moray Eels” and “What Dogs Hear”.

Originally printed in hardcover back in 2003, the Complete Far Side has been reissued in a three-volume paperback set with slipcase and at almost half the price as the original and includes a forward by Steve Martin.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the hashtag #FarSideParade.

Reader's Digest Funny Family Jokes (Reader's Digest Funny Family Jokes)

Reader’s Digest Funny Family Jokes ($9.99; ISBN: 1621451895)

Suitable for all ages, this compilation of the best jokes, riddles and one-lines from the famed Reader’s Digest will have the whole family in stitches. Some of the jokes are silly, while others make you yearn for a glass of wine at its cheesiness, but everyone from age 5 to 55 and beyond can enjoy the humor. It’s a perfect for a stocking stuffer.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with your favorite Knock Knock joke and the hashtag #FamilyJokeParade.

The Simpsons Family History ($39.95; ISBN: 141971399X)

A must for any Simpsons’ fan, this volume celebrates the 25th Anniversary of The Simpsons. Going in chronological order, the book tells of the history of our favorite family in Springfield, from Homer and Marge’s first kiss to the birth of Maggie and so on. Richly illustrated, young and old alike will love this book as much as they love the series.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with your favorite Simpsons character and the hashtag #SimpsonsParade.

The Tucci Table ($30.00; ISBN: 1476738564)

I’m usually skeptical about celebrity cookbooks. They’re usually a lot of flash with little substance, but The Tucci Table cookbook is filled with recipes I’d actually try. Most are fairly simple to make with the minimal amount of ingredients, which is what I like to see. Let’s be honest – if a recipe has a dozen or more ingredients I’m likely to a) not have an ingredient or three; b) turn the page to the next recipe; and c) not going to make it. After reading this book, I’m dying to make Uova da raviolo (Click above to see the photo gallery).  Ravioli with a decadent gorgeous egg yolk inside? I’m so there.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the hashtag #TucciParade.

Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food ($24.95; ISBN: 039306302X)

It’s not really a cookbook, but this memoir follows writer Max Watman as he hunts, fishes, gardens, raises livestock, butchers, preserves, and pickles. Sounds quaint, doesn’t it? But all doesn’t go as planned. It’s a fun romp into the world of DIY food.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the hashtag #HarvestParade.

Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent ($26.95; ISBN: 1455619728)

Speaking of Le Cordon Bleu, the author of this book mixes her Mississippi upbringing with her classical training at the famed French cooking school to create these inspired recipes. I don’t know that I’ll ever take a stab at making the venison stew, but the braised short ribs already has my mouth watering.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the hashtag #FieldPeasParade.

21-Day Tummy Diet Cookbook: 150 All-New Recipes that Shrink, Soothe and Satisfy ($26.99; ISBN: 1621451399)

Man, who hasn’t suffered a stomachache now and then? As you think back and wonder what it is you ate to make your tummy rumble as it does, you also tend to wonder if you could have avoided it all if you ate a little better. Isn’t there always a “Why did I eat that? I should have known better!” phrase when this happens?

This cookbook arms you with the information to dive headfirst into all the holiday eating – what to avoid as well as what to add into your diet to keep the rumblies from your tummy. It also offers up some quick tips and tricks to trim that Santa belly and perhaps help you keep to your new year’s resolution for more than a day!

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the hashtag #TummyParade.

National Geographic Stunning Photographs ($40.00; ISBN: 1426213921)

It’s not a travel book, per se, but the pictures within this gorgeous book are stunning, to say the least  (see photo gallery). When it comes to amazing landscapes and astonishing photojournalism, National Geographic knows its stuff. We take our world for granted sometimes so it’s simply beautiful to see what it truly has to offer.

Author Annie Griffiths advises when taking a family portrait, “Get people in comfortable positions. These are pictures about family love, so make everyone touch each other! Tease family members into throwing their arms around each other, leaning against each other and even touching heads. Most importantly, get close!. We want to see the faces of those we love….not their shoes!”

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the one place you would love to visit and add the hashtag #NatGeoParade.

kate spade new york: places to go, people to see ($40.00; ISBN: 1419713922)

I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who doesn’t like the iconic classic style that is Kate Spade. In this travel/fashion book, the reader can travel to far off places like the Amalfi Coast and Marrakesh without leaving their home. Each locale also offers up ways to bring those far off places back home and into your decor and wardrobe. A must for that fashionista in your life.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with your favorite US state and add the hashtag #SpadeParade. Entry deadline is Dec. 31.

Cecil Beaton – Portraits & Profiles ($45.00; ISBN: 0711235503)

Cecil Beaton was a photographer and Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer.  Included in this gorgeous photobook are portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in her 1953 coronation robes and Jackie Kennedy in her heyday. Book includes an array of photos from art icons Salvador Dali and Georgia O’Keefe to writers T. S. Eliot and Truman Capote to actors John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with the hashtag #CecilParade and tag @Frances_Lincoln.

Star Trek: Ships of the Line ($30.00; ISBN: 147678258X)

Nothing says “geek” to me like Star Trek and what better way to celebrate the Trekkie in your life than giving them the ultimate guide to the fleet of ships in the Star Trek universe?

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with your favorite Star Trek actor or character with the hashtag #TrekkieParade.

Gered Mankowitz: 50 Years of Rock and Roll Photography ($45.00; ISBN: 1847960650)

With forewords by Annie Lennox, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman this book chronicles some of the great rock photography by Gered Mankowitz including photographs of Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, and Joan Jett – to name a few. Any photo hound or rock enthusiast will enjoy this tome.

Want to win a copy? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with your favorite rock and roll artist with the hashtag #SterlingParade.

ABBA: The Treasures ($39,95; ISBN: 1780974949)

If you’ve ever wanted to go to Waterloo, shake your hips like a Dancing Queen, or thought Fernando was not a bull but a guitar-playing soldier in a war-torn land then you need this book. In an old-school interactive format, the book includes removable replica memorabilia like handwritten set lists, lyrics, and diaries as well as a poster. Additionally, the book includes new interviews with all four members of the band.

Want to win this book? Follow and tweet me @BeTheBuddha with your favorite ABBA song with the hashtag #ABBAParade.

Good luck and Happy New Year!



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Categories: Entertainment

8 Gift Ideas for Chanukah

Tue, 12/16/2014 2:32 PM

Chanukah (or Hanukkah), the Jewish holiday otherwise known as the festival of lights, begins at sundown tonight and lasts for 8 days and 8 nights. It’s a pretty low key holiday that commemorates incredible acts by the Maccabees in ancient Greece) (think sword and sandal superheroes) and includes lighting a candle on something called a menorah every night and adding one more candle until you’ve reached all 8 on the last night. Other traditions include exchanging gifts (yay!), eat fried foods including potato pancakes (latkes) and donuts. There’s also a four sided spinning top called a dreidel that’s popular with kids.

While some people exchange 8 gifts for all 8 nights, it’s probably a better idea to find one meaningful or thoughtful or downright silly gift instead. Here are some ideas for all 8 nights:

  1. For your hosts: If you’re planning on spending a few days with relatives, consider a Black and Decker Extra-Wide Convection oven ($59.99,  Walmart.com). It’s great for baking actual full-sized cakes and can fit a full 13-inch by 9-inch pan, 8 slices of toast or a 12-inch pizza – that’s a lot of frittata! Or keep things small, Deco-plate is the world’s first company to launch a line of decorative plates/platters with custom images, which are microwave-safedishwasher-safeoven-safe and free of formaldehyde and they can be customized with any image or design ($29.99, Deco-Plate.com).
  2. For your sartorially challenged co-worker: Guess what? Ugly sweaters aren’t just for Christmas. Check out UglyChristmasSweater.com for their (limited) Hanukkah selection).
  3. For your reality TV obsessed kids: Though Crayola’s award winning Virtual Design Pro Fashion Collection is theoretically for teens and tweens, I’ve spent the last few days playing with it and pretending that I’m a candidate on Project Runway. It’s not just fun though, it fuses fashion, creativity and technology. Simply download the app and then use the included 20- page fashion template book, colored pencils and markers, stencils and more. Probably my favorite toy/game since I played with Fashion Plates when I was a kid. ($29.99, Crayola.com)
  4. For your dad’s sweet tooth: For the guy who always had an extra $20 for you, consider giving him some delish Chanukah Gelt (the chocolate money given out on Chanukah) or other yummy treats from Godiva (Prices vary, Godiva.com)
  5. For your spiritual sister: Ancient Prayer: Channeling Your Faith 365 Days of the Year by By: Rachel Weingarten (that’s me!!)  offers daily inspiration and wisdom to help anyone push past life’s challenges and truly enjoy (and be grateful for) all the good stuff. It’s an exclusive book for Barnes & Noble so you can only get it in B&N stores or at BarnesandNoble.com. (You can read an excerpt online.) It will be the best $9.95 you spend this holiday season. (Hint: buy a copy for yourself too). And in case she’s more into celebrities than soul searching, Find It In Everything, by Drew Barrymore andThe Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body, by Cameron Diaz are also BN exclusives. ($9.95 for Ancient Prayer, BN.com)
  6. For your pregnant bestie: You probably can’t afford to buy her a Birkin, but you can buy her the next best (bestie?) thing. TWELVElittle makes amazing diaper bags that look like designer handbags. And just in case you don’t believe that possible, I recently used the Allure Convertible Satchel as a carry on bag in a stealth style maneuver. I got loads of compliments, and no one suspected that it actually came with a cushy changing pad and about a thousand and one extra pockets for everything from bottles to toys. $230, TWELVElittle.com)
  7. For your tween niece: Midrash Manicures Hanukkah Nail Decals include teeny candles (I’m going to add one to every nail for every day of the holiday), little latkes and small dreidels. (49 decals for $12.99,) If she’s more obsessed with hair, Spaghetti Headz are these cute, twisty hair accessories with miniature polymer charms at the ends (Hanukkah 3 pack, $13.99)
  8. For your tech obsessed brother: One of the worst parts of family get togethers is the part where you have to spend time with family. Bose In Ear Mobile Headphones use the best of Bose technology (Triport technology creates less tinny sound) to allow him to tune out the annoying people he’s related to while switching back and forth between calls on his iPhone. Did you know that BJ’s carries top brands like Bose in addition to their more traditional cost effective bulk brands and special deals? I didn’t. ($99, BJs.com)



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Categories: Entertainment

The Daily Cute: Let Sleeping Pups Sleep

Tue, 12/16/2014 10:27 AM

I was particularly sleepy this morning, which made me want to seek out like-minded individuals. And by like-minded individuals, I, of course, mean sooooo maaaany puuuuppies. Launch the gallery to unleash a treasure trove of zonked pups.

Click here to see “10 Photos to Start Your Week” and check back every weekday for a new Daily Cute!

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Categories: Entertainment

Jadium – December 16

Tue, 12/16/2014 6:00 AM

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Categories: Entertainment

On Remembering Traumatic Events

Tue, 12/16/2014 5:00 AM

Art Mortell in Malibu, California, writes:

I’m writing about your reply to the reader who asked why hypnosis can’t be used to allow people to forget traumatic or painful memories. (November 23, 2014) One of the benefits of remembering traumatic or painful events is that the negative impact on one’s thinking, emotions, and behavior can often be disengaged. Merely the understanding of what is causing our emotional pain can relieve us of its unconscious effect on our lives. 

Marilyn responds:

I agree, but this kind of disengagement likely requires a therapist. 

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Categories: Entertainment

Numbrix 9 – December 16

Mon, 12/15/2014 7:00 PM
Categories: Entertainment

Showbiz Analysis with ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Star Karolyn Grimes

Mon, 12/15/2014 5:46 PM

As a child actress, Karolyn Grimes shared the screen with film legends like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Loretta Young, Buster Keaton, Fred MacMurray, Betty Grable, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Rosalind Russell, Gary Cooper, Glen Ford, and John Wayne. And while her childhood filmography is a lengthy one, she will be forever known as the tiny, precious daughter of Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey in Frank Capra’s classic film “It’s A Wonderful Life”. And today, nearly 70 years later, Karolyn Grimes and Zuzu Bailey continue to steal the hearts of fans every holiday season and beyond. The former child actress recently joined me for my podcast Whine At 9 to discuss her role in the iconic film and its impact upon her life and the lives of others.

At the age of six, Karolyn Grimes was already a seasoned film actress when she was cast as the tiniest Bailey child in It’s a Wonderful Life. But neither she, nor the other cast members, predicted that the film would become as beloved as it now is. “The movie was not a success when it came out,” says Grimes. “So none of us ever thought anything would happen with this film…There were a lot of things that had happened (at the time) that weren’t good for the film…It was a wrong time for a “thinker” type movie to come out. It was right after World War II and people didn’t want to think. They wanted to be entertained.”

It wasn’t until the seventies that It’s a Wonderful Life would begin to receive its deserved recognition. “So this movie just wasn’t for them at the time (it was released),” explains Grimes, “but then in the early seventies, they didn’t renew the copyright, so it became public domain. Then all those little television stations across America could show it….From then on it was like the iconic film.”

“They didn’t find me until 1980,” says Grimes who had left show business in her teens but got a knock on her door in the ’80s asking for an interview. “I was kind of shocked because I had put my movie days far behind me,” admits Grimes, who, after the interview requests and fan mail became frequent, decided she’d best watch the movie in its entirety. “I was 40 years old before I actually saw the whole film. You know, I was raising seven kids. I lived in the bedrooms, in the laundry room, in the kitchen, in the car– car pooling all over. I just didn’t have time to sit down and watch a lot of TV. So I really didn’t. So when I watched the movie– Oh my goodness– I realized what a wonderful film it really was and how it touched so many people’s lives.”

Since then, Karolyn Grimes has become a piece of the film’s legacy helping to preserve memories via special appearances and film screenings with fans. She guesstimates that she has been asked to utter the phrase that made her famous (“Daddy– teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”) thousands of times. And she feels blessed that the film and the role have given her a second career that allows her to connect with people in a positive and inspirational way. Sadly, the happiness and peace that Grimes has found from helping maintain the legacy of It’s a Wonderful Life wasn’t something that she experienced during her teen years. At the age of 14, Grime’ mother died, and shortly after, her father was killed in an automobile accident.

The only child was sent by the Hollywood courts to live in a small farm town in Missouri with her uncle and his wife. Grimes found herself in an unstable home in the middle of nowhere. “My life changed a great deal,” said Grimes, “I was pretty miserable and thought I had died pretty much for about a year. But it took that long for me to realize there were very special people in the world because everyone in the town knew that I was in a really terrible home. And they rallied around me….they gave me love and caring. And they helped me through everything. The teachers. The merchants in those little stores. I had real friends. And I realized what genuine friendship and genuine caring was all about. I learned so much from those people that it was such a valuable lesson to me that I just decided I never wanted to go back to Hollywood again.”

While life may have been far from wonderful, Grimes’ wisdom at such a young age seems remarkable. And just as it has brought joy to so many film fans, It’s a Wonderful Life has brought inspiration and meaning to the life of Karolyn Grimes decades after she had tucked the memory away. “I put the movie days totally behind me…..It was a part of my past that I really kind of put in a little drawer and shut the door. So when It’s a Wonderful Life came along and its re-birth, I mean…I saw the door. And I thought, ‘I’ve been given this opportunity. Why not take it?’ I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to touch lives and be a part of this wonderful film. So that’s what I did.” Grimes marvels at her situation and the fact that she gets to celebrate Christmas with devoted fans every year. “How often can someone have a gift like that?”

Listen to Nancy’s interview with Karolyn Grimes here, on iTunes, or Stitcher Radio.

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

View the original at Parade or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+
Categories: Entertainment

10 Days ‘Til Christmas: The Health Perks of a Roasted Christmas Turkey

Mon, 12/15/2014 3:40 PM

There is the spirit of joy, forgiveness and happiness in the air during December. There is also the lovely aroma of herbs and roasted turkey and holiday foods wafting in the air from restaurants and homes which kindles your taste buds to life.

Turkey is my favored choice of protein for the holidays. I remember when I was a child, an aunt of mine who lived on a farm decided to roast a turkey for Christmas.

Diana Susselman (Diana Susselman)

She selected the best one and kept it in a secure place. But the turkey decided to escape, and I still remember the whole family from my great grandfather to the children running after it through the fields, just like the story of the gingerbread man!

Pasture fed turkeys, are your best option if you are interested in trying a holiday turkey this year. You can get it online, you can check out www.localharvest.org and www.eatwild.com. Pasture fed turkey is rich in vitamin B3, protein, selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, choline, pantothenic acid, vitamin B2, zinc and vitamin B12. It gives you broad range nutritional support. Apart from the above mentioned nutrients, it also gives you vitamins such as B1, B2, B5, and minerals such as copper, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and iron.

If those who are looking for a very lean and delicious turkey dinner (maybe saving some calories for dessert or extra servings of sides), here is a good tip:

TIP: Be sure to remove the skin because most of the fat resides in the skin. 

Health research says turkey contains amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin and plays an important role in strengthening the immune system. Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in turkey, which boosts the nerve health and function.

If you consume turkey regularly, it will help lower your cholesterol levels, because turkey meat has a lower glycemic index than other meats. Turkey can fulfill up to 65% of our daily protein requirement.

Remember, protein is the building block for structural tissues and for immune defense cells. How great is that?

The meat is rich in selenium which is a must for the metabolism of thyroid hormone. Turkey provides up to 47% of the daily requirement of selenium.

There are so many great health-related reasons to cook turkey for your Christmas dinner. But also umerous delicious reasons as well!

Here is an amazing video by the world famous chef Gordon Ramsay about the perfect roast turkey with parsley, lemon and garlic butter (Part 1 and Part 2).

YouTube (YouTube)

TIP: If you are concerned about using bacon, there are a lot of options, such as bacon made from coconut, beef, turkey, soy protein and duck. 

Here is another great and healthy recipe to roast turkey with rice stuffing and gravy with fresh herbs that you may be interested in.

Have a wonderful Christmas filled with laughter, love, joy and happiness with all your near and dear ones. And last but not the least, relish and share your delicious roasted turkey with all your friends and spread the good health and cheer.


Take care and Merry Christmas,



Swarnam John is a health blogger; she gives wonderful health tips and talks about the trending health topics, in her blog healthyhomosapien. You can follow her on twitter, googleplus and facebook.

Have a great day ahead! Swarnam is also a Sverve influencer – connect with her here


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Categories: Entertainment

Holiday Gift Guide: Movies, Books, Games & More That Mom Will Love

Mon, 12/15/2014 1:16 PM

If you’re contemplating whether or not it’s a good idea to get Mom a new vacuum this holiday season, just stop right now. Cleaning supplies are not usually high on a mom’s wish list. Why not switch it up and get her something fun this year? Maybe she’s a voracious reader, or a movie lover, or even a videogames junkie. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some of the year’s very best movies, books, games, and more that Mom will absolutely adore. Happy Holidays!

Click on the photo at the top of this post to see what you can put under the tree for Mom!


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Categories: Entertainment

Bestselling Middle Grade and YA Authors Share Must-Read 2014 Picks!

Fri, 12/12/2014 4:43 PM

Bestselling YA authors pick their 2014 faves — and you’re not going to want to miss this list, from authors like Gayle Forman, Ally Condie, Tim Federle. From Jacqueline Woodson’s brown girl dreaming to Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, here are 20 can’t miss books to add to your holiday shopping cart!



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Categories: Entertainment

Olivia Newton-John: Why a Smile is the Best Facelift

Fri, 12/12/2014 3:55 PM

I’m feeling just a tad overwhelmed here, trying to determine how best to chronicle the astonishing five-decade career of singer, actor, author and philanthropist Olivia Newton-John. Her list of accomplishments is so long and impressive that I want to nudge you to go here and refresh yourself about all of them. You’ll be reminded of why we love her and her music, and admire her dedication to making positive changes in the world—which she has certainly done.

I was living in New York City in the late 70s when Olivia’s name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue thanks to her starring role in Grease, the most successful movie musical in history. It features unforgettable hits, written by John Farrar, like “You’re The One That I Want,” “Summer Nights,” and her mega-hit, “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” And of course later we can’t forget “Physical,” which brings back memories for me of a steamy  1981 summer in Chicago.

Olivia has been well recognized for her philanthropy by the United Nations, her home country,  and many more organizations. She triumphed over breast cancer and then initially raised more than $2 million in 2008 for her Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, by leading a group of famous faces along the Great Wall of China. The walk was followed by a CD release and further energetic fundraising efforts, and then by the confirmation of nearly $200 million raised for the center’s opening in June 2012. Olivia also launched the Liv Aid breast health resource and remains a passionate advocate for the cause.

She owns the award-wnning Gaia Retreat & Spa in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia, and she and her husband, “Amazon John” Easterling advocate for the world’s rainforests—and someone certainly needs to.

Most important now, Olivia’s show, “Summer Nights,” that opened in April at the Flamingo Las Vegas, has just been extended through September 2015. Make sure to get tickets here. With so much good going on, let’s see how Olivia does it all so well.

Olivia, tell us how you Mind Your Body with what you eat. However you do this, it is definitely working for you.
I’ve always eaten pretty well. Mom was German and cooked very simply most nights. She used to steam vegetables and cook potatoes with the skin on them. My friends had foods out of cans, and they ate white bread. My mom gave me really good habits that I’ve also passed on to my daughter.

What‘s your physical activity regimen?
I do something every day. I use a treadmill in Vegas for a half-hour to get my heart rate up. I like to take my German Shepherd Raven out on hikes when I’m home in Santa Ynez. I play tennis and do a lot of walking. And my show is a good workout, too—dancing and singing at the same time. I want to try Zumba [a dance-fitness class].

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about health so far?
Going through breast cancer was a pretty big lesson. I’ve always eaten pretty well, and I’m not a drinker—I might have a glass of wine. Sugar is probably my only vice. I try to limit that to dark chocolate, which is actually good for you. I do try to eat from all the important food groups. I know I need a lot of protein, and I also eat nuts, salads, vegetables—I love them!

Olivia, what can we ‘do’ about cancer? You are respected for being a cancer ‘thriver.’
I think eating organic is important. When foods are sprayed while growing, we don’t know what’s in them. Also, know what’s really in your home, like we say at Healthy Child, Healthy World. (Olivia helped launch the nonprofit in 1992 and was a spokesperson for a decade. Parents turn to Healthy Child for practical, credible advice for creating healthier homes.) Make sure to use nontoxic building and cleaning products and be careful about what’s under the kitchen sink. Children are so vulnerable so we must be conscious about these things. Stay positive, eat healthy, exercise, and try to have a good life and not it too seriously.

What do you think slows the aging process? Honestly, you have not really aged, it seems. Every photo is so vibrant!
I’m trying to age gracefully, and don’t want to be totally obsessed with the aging process. I am married to a wonderful man, Amazon John, who knows so much about health and herbs. His company, Amazon Herb, is now part of the wellness company TriVita. He gives me handfuls of herbs to help me stay healthy. I think beauty comes from the inside out. I am very fortunate that I am happy and that it shows. The best facelift is a smile!

Show business is not always kind, and many do not have the resilience to survive, much less thrive the way you have in so many ways. How do you do it, and how do you maintain your mental and physical health?
I’ve been through a lot, but there’s no escaping difficulties and stresses, no matter who you are. I’m thankful for good people around me like my friends, and I’m grateful for my animals. I’m pretty grounded. When you have fame, people observe you from the outside, but you’re still a person living life the way they do. And about fame: I know that tomorrow ‘it’ could be somebody else…

It’s fitting that you’re our special guest on Mind Your Body. Your Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre puts a special focus on, as you put it, ‘providing care and treatment for the whole person, body, mind and spirit.’ Why is this important?
I help fund-raise for the center attached to Austin Hospital. in a suburb of Melbourne. Patients can be frightened while undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, and they need support not just for body, but for mind and spirit. The center is a beautiful, healing place and the wellness program brought another aspect to the healing journey. Patients can have acupuncture, massage, and participate in music and art therapy. They can learn meditation and learn about nutrition.  A portion of every ticket sold for my show sold benefits the center. In the past year alone we have raised thousands of dollars for our wellness programs. 

For all the women who would like to be ‘like you,’ what would you say to them about how they can be their best selves?
I told another singer/songwriter recently to ‘be true to who you are and don’t try to be the next somebody or be like someone else’. Don’t give up, and don’t give in and be true to what you believe. I wrote about that in lyrics for the song “Right Here with You.”

What do you love about doing your show at Flamingo Las Vegas? Congratulations on the extension through September next year!
I just called the wonderful John Farrar, who produced and wrote most of songs in show. [They are Olivia’s number one singles, including “Magic,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “You’re the One that I Want.”] I think these songs are really beautiful—it’s a pleasure to sing them, with their great lyrics and melodies. I’m very grateful to him and to my great band. We’re a little family that all supports each other.

The show isn’t a huge production. It’s me and my music, an intimate evening. I really wanted that, and I wasn’t sure how that would do in Vegas. I’ve been true to myself and am grateful that it’s been very successful.

Take a quick peek at a few key health headlines from this week. I think they might help you sleep better. See why>>

Stephanie Stephens, M.A., is a spokesperson and host for the active, mature female demographic—midlife and boomer. She writes, produces, and hosts her multimedia channel, Mind Your Body TV, featuring timely health and lifestyle blogs, podcasts, and videos—also seen on YouTube and syndicated by AOL/On.

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Categories: Entertainment

Holiday Gift Guide: Movies, Books, Games & More That Dad Will Love

Fri, 12/12/2014 1:34 PM

Another tie? Really? Imagine, if you will, that you decide to go a different route with Dad’s holiday gift this year? Maybe he’s a cinephile that loves a good movie, or maybe he’s always got his nose in a book. Or maybe he just likes play games in his free time. Whatever it is, Pops deserves more than the standard ties, socks, and underwear he gets every year. For that very reason, we’ve put together a list of some of the year’s very best movies, books, games, and more that Dad will absolutely love. Happy Holidays!

Click on the photo at the top of this post to see what you can put under the tree for Dad!


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Categories: Entertainment

‘Voice’ Lessons

Fri, 12/12/2014 11:36 AM

The coaches of TV’s hottest talent show share what they’ve learned about themselves and each other … and advice they have for all of us.

By Melinda Newman

When Adam Levine agreed to come aboard TV’s The Voice as a celebrity “coach” seven seasons ago, the Maroon 5 frontman says he expected “to get a paycheck and have fun on some dumb TV show for five minutes.” But he got so much more.

“It turned out to be life-altering,” Levine says of serving on NBC’s singing competition reality show, which airs its season seven finale tomorrow night. “After the first day of shooting, there was something that was restored in us about music. It was like a renaissance.”

Levine is one of The Voice’s four current celebrity coaches who compete against each other by building teams of singers. The contestants then advance—or exit—based on performance evaluations and audience votes.

Three ultimately face off in a live grand finale for $100,000 and a recording contract, while the winning coach gets bragging rights.

The rewards, though, for both coaches and “kids” (as the contestants are warmly referred to) run much deeper. Seeing these young performers deal with rejection and criticism, Levine says, has “made me more compassionate and nicer.” And, he adds, The Voice gives a tremendous boost to the self esteem of everyone who steps onto its stage. “The show makes you feel good about yourself. I feel good because I’m doing this thing that’s really helping people along in their careers.”

Blake Shelton, the Country Music Association’s recently crowned Male Vocalist of the Year, one of the coaches on the top-rated primetime show since it premiered in 2011, adds, “I didn’t realize how emotionally attached I’d get. At this point, I’ve made it—if [my career] ends for me tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. My passion now is to be able to help some of these kids.”

He featured season two contestant Gwen Sebastian on his recent No. 1 country hit “My Eyes,” and has given others a hand in making connections in the music business.

Gwen Stefani, lead singer of the band No Doubt and Shelton’s fellow season seven coach, says she and “Happy” performer/producer Pharrell Williams felt immediately at home on The Voice’s glistening black-and-red set on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles.

“Everyone’s here together and we’re all moving toward this whole journey,” says Stefani (who will step down next season when one of the show’s original coaches, Christina Aguilera, returns).

Bonding with fellow performers with whom his path wouldn’t have naturally crossed is an unexpected bonus, according to Levine. “We’re forming real friendships,” he says.

Each mentor imparts lessons that extend beyond singing critiques. “I encourage people to have an imagination and stay on the bright side of it,” Williams says.

Stefani, who is a successful clothes designer as well as an artist, looks at contestants’ overall package, often complimenting them on their style or even giving impromptu makeover suggestions. “I think that’s a female perspective,” she says.

Shelton stresses authenticity. “If you want to have a long-term career, you can’t do that without being 100 percent honest with yourself. You can’t just hold up a farce or a lie for very long—people see through it,” he says.

It’s a lesson Shelton, who’s known for his quick wit and seeming willingness to say—or tweet—anything, learned himself after he became a coach.

“The Voice has definitely made me more comfortable being myself,” he says. “When I first started in country music, I kind of felt like I really censored myself. Now with this show, it’s that other side of me that people seem to relate to. Adam’s always the first to say, ‘Man, you get on Twitter and say something that if I said it they’d burn my house down. If you say it, it’s funny.’ ”

The Voice has yet to create a breakout star on the level of American Idol’s Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. But that’s OK, says Stefani. “The show is not about making it,” she says. “It is about this moment and learning.”

“The show is not called The Success. You don’t win success—you gotta earn that,” Williams says. “The first thing I tell my team is, ‘Hey, you’re all going home eventually, even the winner. It’s all a matter of perspective.’”

Whenever someone gets eliminated, the coaches know how it feels. “We all as artists, sitting in those chairs, have had people that said no to us along the way,” says Shelton.

No matter when a contestant “goes home,” Williams tries to offer one last bit of instruction that has nothing to do with singing and everything to do with life: Seize every opportunity.

“The lights are on, the cameras are on: Make this your moment,” says Williams—who definitely takes his own advice. “I’m having a great time imparting what I know and paying it forward.”


Next: Lessons from the Voices of Experience

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Categories: Entertainment
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Stormwater fee to fund Columbia County repairs

Columbia County is set to invest an additional $600,000 in its aging stormwater system next year, with the hope that more money and manpower will result in half as many repair orders and fewer ...
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