Practical Wedding Registry Must-Haves

It's easy for new brides-to-be to get absorbed in all of the details of the wedding – from the perfect wedding dress to the venue, flowers, photographer, and of course, the wedding registry. Compiling the registry is a fun activity, but brides can get a bit heavy handed when it comes to shooting the scanner gun. So how do couples distinguish between what they WANT and NEED?

  1. The T-fal Ingenio Multi Grater allows users to grate directly onto food, or fill the unit and dispense. The etched blades provide optimum grating in both directions and the safety cover reverses for coarse and fine grating. Another added bonus: the blades separate for easy cleaning! $16.99
  2. The T-fal Ingenio Nonstick Rolling Pin is the perfect registry gift for the baking bride. The surface keeps the dough from sticking and the stands keep the pin elevated for hygiene and prevents the pin from rolling away. $24.99
  3. Want to whip up a batch of perfectly made cookies for your new spouse? The T-fal AirBake allows users to create perfectly baked cookies 15% faster. AirBake uses a clever double-layer technology to provide an overall enhanced baking performance ... meaning better browning, no burning, and decreased bake times! $12.99
  4. Peel your heart out using the T-fal Ingenio Micro Edge Peeler. The razor-sharp etched blade effortlessly slices through rough fruit and veggie skin, making it great for everything from cucumbers to squash. The stainless steel gouging blade included along the side is perfect for removing stubborn potato eyes with ease. $7.99
  5. The T-fal Ingenio Steamer Basket has the ability to elevate the "telescoping post" for more space and the use of easy-grip handles. It is made of heat resistant nylon for added use in pot on stovetop and in microwave. $11.99
  6. The T-fal Ingenio 5 Second Chopper features two independent blades that provide efficient and progressive chopping in 5 seconds or less. You can use the 5 second chopper for fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and meats and it is ideal for making salsa and purees. $22.99
  7. The T-fal 16-piece Tool & Gadget Set is the perfect starter pack for any couple. The set includes a turner, spoon, whisk, peeler, can opener, 5 measuring cups & 6 measuring spoons. $44.99

Top Tips for Improving Your Home’s Interior

Interior design is a difficult task for the average homeowner. Even if you love your space to death, knowing exactly what to put in it can be a huge challenge. With so many different options out there, and many of those options coming in many different varieties, you can go a bit crazy trying to design your space.

Luckily, there are some tips that can help you get through the process. If you do it right, you’ll wind up with a home that exceeds your wildest dreams, even if you don’t have a million dollars to spend on your interior.

Know Your Home’s Style

Before you determine what type of furniture to put in your home, you need to really think about the style and feel you want to create in your house. One of the biggest factors when it comes to figuring that out is knowing what type of home you have.

For example, if you have a home with Spanish influences, you’re going to have to really fight to make the art deco palace you’ve dreamed of. Work with your home and you’ll find the project a whole lot easier.

Find Problem Spaces

In almost every home, even the ones that are beautiful and nearly perfect, you can find a space that just isn’t working that well. Perhaps it’s too small or it doesn’t get enough light. Whatever it is, you want to make sure that area gets treatment first.

After all, a home is only as good as its worst part. Upgrade poor performers and you’ll have a better home overall.

Hire an Interior Designer

There’s a misconception out there that you have to be a rock star or business tycoon to have an interior designer come into your home and help with your d├ęcor. The truth is that most people can afford to hire Miami interior designers, at least on some level.

Whether you want somebody to help you design your home from the ground up, or you just want help finishing the den and kitchen, a designer with know-how and skill can be a major benefit to you and your space.

Find somebody you trust and set up a consultation. If you’re buying a large amount of goods, you might even save money – and a whole lot of time – by working with a designer in the Miami area.

Revamp Your Homeschool Library This Summer with #Capstone

Disclaimer: I received books to review. All opinions are my own.

This summer, while doing some planning, finishing up my Letter Of The Week curriculum, and revamping some things like our morning board and workbooks, I'm focusing on our library. I'm trying to be more intentional with it so that the space is well used. Books that are for a specific lesson, I'll get from the library, but books that we will use over and over again, or that are more specific to our area, will stay in the library. Here are some of those books. Capstone is great for keeping your library up to date.

Ultimate Guide To Gardening: Grow Your Own Indoor, Vegetable, Fairy, and Other Great Gardens

The Ultimate Guide to Gardening: Grow Your Own Indoor, Vegetable, Fairy, and Other Great GardensWe live out in the country and try to spend a lot of time outdoors. My husband also loves to garden, and is quite good at it. We want them to get the basics of many skills so that they are prepared for their future. Gardening is one of those skills, plus- I love gardening books. We currently have 4 gardens- vegetables, a berry "patch", flowers (well, more like flowering vines), and a fairy garden. This book has been a great help for all of these. I know that this is a book we will use for many years to come. Who knows, it may even be an heirloom. Ultimate Guide To Gardening ($12.95), by Lisa J. Amstutz, is definitely a welcome book in my library. 

Full of how-to projects for any level of gardener, this book includes step-by-step instructions with accompanying full-color photographs. Whether you’re planting flowers outdoors, or indoor vegetables, you’ll find a range of unique gardens you can grow yourself. Tips and techniques are included, as well as variations to make each project your own.

Apples, Apples Everywhere!: Learning About Apple Harvests

Apples, Apples Everywhere!: Learning About Apple HarvestsIn the town I grew up in (just the next town over from me now), apples are kind of a big deal. Seriously, there are apple (and peach) orchards everywhere. There is even the South Carolina Apple Festival, with a parade, craft show, street dance, talent show, and even a beauty pageant. See what I mean by big deal. So, we get to have lots of fun with apples every September. I had decided to include a big apple unit study this year, but I knew that I needed a few books to keep on hand for the apples- to take on field trips and to revisit each year. That's why Apples, Apples Everywhere! ($7.95), by Robin Koontz, is a must-have for our library.

Autumn is apple harvest time. Come along on a trip to the apple orchard. Find out how apples are picked and stored. Learn which apples are best for munching. But watch out for the apple worms!

My First Spanish Phrases

My First Spanish PhrasesBecause Kodabug isn't talking (did you see this post?), we have been learning Sign Language and this book has really helped. This year, I'm going to try something different. I may not be successful, but I'm going to try teaching English, Spanish, and Sign Language at the same time. I've created flash cards with the help of My First Spanish Phrases ($7.95), by Jill Kalz. The phrases highlighted in this book are awesome and I love being able to look one up when Tbomb asks me how to say something in Spanish. This book is actually going to stay in our daily basket.

Open the pages of this book and you’ll soon be speaking Spanish! Colorful illustrations and simple labels make learning Spanish fun. From the basics to cool phrases, this book will give you lots to talk about!

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of AllegianceI am a huge history buff, especially of United States history. I especially love the time of the Revolution. All of the documents, songs, and more mean so much to me and I want my kids to learn the same love. I also have this love and intrigue of The Pledge Of Allegiance. How it has changed over time is very interesting. This year, the kids will actually be learning to say the Pledge, now that Tbomb is starting Kindergarten. I'm sure we will read The Pledge of Allegiance ($8.95), by Norman Pearl, most mornings until they get the hang of it.

Many kids say the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school. But what does it mean and where did it come from? Francis Bellamy wrote it more than 100 years ago. Join Bellamy in The Pledge of Allegiance for more of the story.

Big Book of Building: Duct Tape, Paper, Cardboard, and Recycled Projects to Blast Away Boredom

Big Book of Building: Duct Tape, Paper, Cardboard, and Recycled Projects to Blast Away BoredomAlong the same lines of wanting the kids to know about gardening, we also want them to learn about building. My husband is also a construction worker, so I like for them to understand what daddy does. The Big Book of Building ($14.95), by Marne Ventura , is a perfect addition to our library. I have already started making plans of going through the book with them and doing different projects throughout the year. Some of them will even be community service projects or the homeless shelter.

Grab some paper, cardboard, duct tape, and other materials and get ready to blast away boredom! Inventive young builders will love creating awesome projects such as treasure chests, tin can robots, space stations, swords and armor, and a whole lot more. With easy to follow step-by-step instructions, readers will be building their own fantastic projects in no time!

I am always stumbling across books that are perfect reference books, but I want to know what your favorites are.

How To Become More Generous In A Me-First World

Americans like to think of themselves as generous people.

And often, the numbers back that up, such as a recent report that revealed they gave a record $373.3 billion to charity in 2015.

But as impressive as that sum seems, most people still struggle with the stingier side of human nature, putting their own material wants first and considering charitable giving only as an afterthought, say John Cortines and Greg Baumer, co-authors of the book “God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School” (

“We don’t need to point fingers at ‘those greedy people over there on Wall Street’ or wherever,” Cortines says. “Greed lurks in all of us. The question is: What are we going to do about it?”

The good news, Cortines and Baumer say, is that while greed is a widespread human characteristic, so is generosity.  Reflecting on their lifelong journey, they took a hard look at biblical passages while at Harvard and became convinced that their own hearts were full of greed and needed to change.

“Take your pick of a worldview and it encourages sharing with others,” Baumer says. “Eastern faiths, Abrahamic faiths, atheism – it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to this topic. Virtually all of humanity values generosity.”

But valuing generosity is one thing. Making it a significant part of your lifestyle is something else. Cortines and Baumer say mindsets about money can be broken down into three groups: spenders, who pursue the greatest amount of consumption right now without much thought of tomorrow; savers, who limit their consumption to accumulate wealth; and servants, who limit both consumption and wealth building so they can give the most money possible to help others.

“That last group, unfortunately, is the rarest,” Cortines says.

There are steps people can take to become more generous, Cortines and Baumer say. Those include:

  • Make giving a priority. In any endeavor, how well you do depends on how much of a priority you make the goal. It’s tough to be generous if the amount you give is based on what’s left over after you’ve satisfied your own wants.  Cortines and Baumer give right off the top, before setting the rest of their monthly budgets.  (They give away 12-18 percent of their gross incomes, currently.)
  • Talk about your finances.  In our culture we talk about almost everything, but are strangely silent about personal finances.  Sharing your financial life with a trusted friend can help you gain perspective, Cortines and Baumer claim.  They each fully divulge their finances to close friends, soliciting advice and encouragement.
  • Set “financial finish lines.” While it’s important to take care of yourself and your family, Cortines and Baumer say it helps to come up with a cutoff point where there is no further need for more spending or more wealth accumulation. Both authors have publicly committed to live a middle class life, regardless of their earnings.  Getting more money should increase our standard of giving, not our standard of living, they say.

“You can always find ways to justify more spending and more accumulation of wealth,” Baumer says. “But at some point you should ask yourself, ‘How much is enough?’ ”

About John Cortines and Greg Baumer

John Cortines and Greg Baumer are co-authors of “God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School” ( Baumer is VP of Business Development for naviHealth, a Nashville-based healthcare technology firm. Cortines is Executive VP of Emerging Leaders for Generous Giving, an organization that exists to share the biblical message of generosity.

How To Transform Classrooms From Teaching Centers Into Learning Centers

Drop in on any traditional classroom and likely you’ll see a teacher at the front of the room talking while students, seated in perfect rows, listen.

It’s time for schools to shake up that image and assign the students the responsibility for their own, and each others’, learning, says Mac Bogert, president of Allen Zabriskie Associates ( and author of “Learning Chaos: How Disorder Can Save Education.”

“Students can do just fine without teachers, but the reverse is not true,” Bogert says. “Certainly, we can learn because of teaching, but we also can learn in spite of teaching because teaching and learning are fundamentally different.”

Don’t get him wrong, though. He’s spent years teaching at every level.

“I’m not knocking teachers,” Bogert says. “I think everyone should teach public school for two years. There would be a greater respect for teachers if we all experienced the long hours, low pay and disregard that come with the job.”

But he does advocate changing the approach to teaching and learning so that students take on a greater role and responsibility. He calls it “learning chaos” and Bogert says some ways schools can achieve it include:

  • Look to the students for expertise. In a traditional classroom, the instructor is viewed as the expert and challenging the instructor is disrespectful. Bogert wants to see a day where it’s a show of respect to challenge the teacher, and where teachers are willing to admit they don’t know everything— that students and teachers are equal partners in learning.
  • Focus on questions more than answers. Think of nearly every classroom you were in. The goal was for students to give the correct answer. But learning should be about students asking questions – and then more questions, Bogert says. Answers are merely stepping stones to the next question.
  • Treat everyone’s learning as everyone’s responsibility. In most classrooms, learning means being talked at or down to. As a result, many students just wait for the ordeal to be over. But if schools create an atmosphere where students expect to teach and where learning means listening equally, then the students become more engaged.
  • Remember that fun generates successful learning. Too often, learning is viewed as serious business and fun is seen as disruptive. Lighten up, Bogert says. Being serious limits flexibility, curiosity and the capacity to learn at every age.
  • Make classroom chaos a priority. Usually, the goal is a controlled classroom – right down to seating arrangements. But why not let the learners arrange the room, and the content as well? Let them take charge. When teachers and administrators focus too tightly on control, they don’t give students’ brains room to explore ideas.

“Unfortunately, what schools really reward is accumulation and regurgitation,” Bogert says. “Students accumulate information and they regurgitate it for a test. That’s not the same as learning. Learning is about insight, it’s about curiosity. Curiosity is our default setting. We don’t need to make learning happen. We need to remove the barriers that prevent it.”

About Mac Bogert

Mac Bogert founded Allen Zabriskie Associates ( to embolden teachers and students to become equal partners in learning. He details this process in his book “Learning Chaos: How Disorder Can Save Education.” Mac currently delivers leadership coaching and innovative learning opportunities for 180 clients nationwide. He served as education coordinator at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and is still active in the arts for his community.

The Unseen War Still Waging Inside The Minds Of Many Veterans

By Daniel G. Amen, M.D., and Max Cleland

Most people probably think wars end when the shooting stops.

But that’s not the case for those who do the fighting. For them, the war lives on long after they return home and try to resume normal lives.

One of us, Max Cleland, knows from experience. He lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade explosion in Vietnam in the 1960s. Even after the physical injuries healed, even after the rehabilitation was over, the emotional anguish continued. And in truth, nearly 50 years later, that aspect still hasn’t completely healed.

Sadly, today as military men and women return home from war zones, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in mental heath care for veterans. The suicide rate is unacceptably high and the success rates for PTSD, depression and anxiety disorders haven’t improved in years.

Meanwhile, veterans, their families and society as whole will be dealing with the fallout from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for another 70 years – at least. PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) all increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

That’s why the United States must do whatever it can to improve mental health care for those injured in war. It’s a moral obligation.

From firsthand experience, Max can tell you that the treatment path can be slow, frustrating and sometimes terrifying. Often those treatments are ineffective, and that can be demoralizing and make those who suffer reluctant to seek further care.

There are also practical problems. Many veterans wounded in wars can’t undergo a brain MRI because of the shrapnel in their bodies. CT scans are possible, but they don’t show the full picture of what’s happening with the brain.

But an alternative is emerging. An imaging study called SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) measures how well blood flows through the brain and can be performed safely on veterans who have shrapnel.

Two recent studies, one with 196 veterans and another with more 20,000 patients, reported that SPECT could distinguish between PTSD and TBI with clinically significant accuracy. The study with the larger number of patients, led by Dr. Amen, was highlighted as one of the Top 100 Stories in Science for 2015 by Discover Magazine.

Being able to distinguish between PTSD and TBI is important because they can have overlapping symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, depression and concentration problems. But the treatments for them are different. Some treatments that help people with PTSD can actually be harmful to those with TBI.

The results of a SPECT scan also might give veterans who suffer from these conditions a new perspective on themselves.

Fewer than half of people with mental health problems ever seek help. One major reason: No one wants to be labeled mentally ill, defective or abnormal.

This is especially true in the military where bravery and self-reliance are highly valued, and many believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or even a moral failing.

Seeing their own abnormal functional scans could help these veterans reframe their problems as brain-based and medical, rather than as moral, decreasing the shame and the stigma. At least that’s how it worked for Max, who had a SPECT scan that showed evidence of both PTSD and TBI.

In addition, knowing that the structure of the brain is normal, but the function abnormal, can give them hope that they could get better if they are diligent about rehabilitation.

So consider this: What if we reimagine mental health as brain health? This one simple idea could shift the negative attitudes many people have about mental illness, decrease stigma, and increase the willingness to get help among those who most need it.

We envision a time – hopefully not too far into the future – when mental health problems will be evaluated and treated like other medical issues, and physicians will use functional imaging tools, genetics, and other markers to guide treatment — just as cardiologists, oncologists or orthopedists do to help their patients today.

Daniel Amen, M.D. is a clinical neuroscientist and brain-imaging expert who heads Amen Clinics, which are located in Orange County, Calif., Atlanta, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., and the Seattle area. He has written numerous books, including "Healing ADD" and "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life." Dr. Amen also has appeared as a guest on such TV shows as "The View" and was a consultant for the movie "Concussion."

Max Cleland is a disabled U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, a recipient of the Silver Star for valor, former head of the Veterans Administration, and U.S. Senator from Georgia. He is a strong advocate for veterans and all of those who struggle with mental health issues.


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