Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Have Moved!!

After 9, yes 9 years of blogging here on Blogger, I decided it was finally time for a little upgrade and I am excited to announce that I have now moved!

Don't worry, this site will still be here. I may even post occasionally just to be sure you're still paying attention, but my my site is way bigger and better and much easier to read and navigate. You will love it.

Please visit Victoriafedden.com right now.

Please update your bookmarks, etc.

On the new site, most importantly, you'll find a new home for My Blog. Please check out the current post about how my friends get me through the worst.

An About page.

A Book Club Page dedicated to my book reviews, recommendations and discussion questions about books I've read and loved.

A Recipes Page where I share all the yummy things I cook. Right now I have an amazing cranberry scone recipe up.

A whole page just for Nasty-Assed Recipes.

Writing Tips and Inspiration for Writers.
 
An easy place to find the books I've written.

A simple way to Contact me.

Don't forget you can still always find me on my Facebook page too where I share articles I've written, new blog posts and general stuff I find and love.

Please be sure to sign up for my Newsletter as well! Sign up form is at the bottom of this video post.

I'm excited to see you at my new home! Please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Back in the Day Vs. Now: The More Things Change...


Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the food, the cheer, the time spent with family. Some of my best childhood memories are of my Thanksgivings past, all viewed from the kids’ table of course. Now that I have a daughter, I am more and more aware of how things have changed since I was little, in some ways for the better. For years I thought I didn’t like sweet potatoes because the ones we had back in the 70s were dumped out of a big, purple and orange can and smothered in mini-marshmallows. The millennial roasted, organic garnet yam version is WAY better.
 But as they say, as much as things change, they also stay the same.

Here’s a little side by side comparison of Thanksgiving back in the day and Thanksgiving now:

Then: Bundle up the kids and drive across town to Grandma’s House. Over the river and through the woods and all that. 
Now: Pack up the entire family, kennel the dogs, rush to the airport, endure an hour long security line, almost miss your plane and then fly across the country to grandma’s house. On the busiest travel day of the year of course.

Then: Throw the Butterball in the oven until it’s done.
Now: Brine the farm-raised, humanely slaughtered, organic turkey in a mixture of wine, Himalayan salt, juniper berries and star anise. Wrap it in grass-fed butter soaked cheese cloth after inserting decorative herb leaves under the skin and roast gently in a convection oven. Glaze with a chipotle spiked pomegranate molasses.

Then: Cranberry sauce plops right out of the can onto the dish with convenient lines for slicing!
Now: Are these cranberries GMO?
                                                                                                                                                  
Then: All the young men in the family have perms and mustaches and want to do The Hustle.
Now: All the young men in the family look Amish, complete with huge beards, have at least one ear tunnel and want to be organic farmers and run their own CSAs.



Then: You don’t eat meat? Well here, turkey’s not meat, it’s poultry. No? Ok, have some stuffing then. It’s not made with meat. Just some broth. What’s the big idea here? Are you voting for Carter or something?
Now: Oh my God, should we get the vegetarians a Field Roast or Tofurkey? Or make a lentil loaf and serve it in an acorn squash? Is Field Roast gluten free?

Then: Football!! Let’s go play outside and then come inside and watch the game.
Now: Umm, HELLO?? Have you never heard of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy? How about some Montessori games on the iPad for the kids instead? And can we go ironically retro and maybe watch The Sound of Music on Apple TV instead?

Then: Everyone’s in an uproar because Cousin Earl is showing off his tattoo that he got in the Navy. Rumors are going around that Cousin Kevin might be, you know, G. A. Y. because he has an earring.
Now: Everyone has a tattoo. The baby practically has a tramp stamp and look at Grandma rocking her new ink over there as she mashes those potatoes. And by the way, Cousin Kevin IS gay, every guy at the table has an earring or two or three, Cousin Katie has her nipple pierced and a beauty mark stud and no one cares about any of it. Except maybe Grandpa but he’s too busy trying to find out what in the devil this Brazilian wax nonsense is that everyone’s been talking about. What in the dickens is the matter with folks? Back in his day, a man appreciated a lady with a nice, full…GRANDPA STOP IT!!



Then: Well, we might hit the K-Mart or Sears tomorrow to see if they have any sales going on.
Now: We’re having dinner at one in the afternoon because we need to get the dishes washed and the food put away because the Mall opens at five pm and BLACK FRIDAY STARTS THURSDAY EVENING, BITCHES. I AM GETTING A FLAT SCREEN TV FOR TWO DOLLARS THIS YEAR IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO! And don’t think I won’t cut somebody if I have to.

Then: The kids are putting on an adorable reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. Aww, look at the little Pilgrims and Indians learning to share and live together in harmony.
Now: No way are we going to propagate a fake fairy tale story that did not happen in order to sugar coat the facts about how a bunch of bigoted, intolerant religious fanatics came over here from Europe to steal the native tribes’ land and kick off a centuries long, brutal genocide. Plus, they didn’t even have turkey back then. I’m sorry but Squanto was eating acorns, oysters and freakin’ squirrels.



Then: Polaroids and flash bulbs. Get around to dropping the film off at the Fotomat after Christmas. Hopefully. Then maybe by Easter someone will finally manage to stick all the pictures into a big, vinyl covered photo album.
Now: Instagram this immediately. Tag me. Delete that! I look fat. Untag me! Did you post that without asking me? Oh my God! How many likes did we get?   #FamilyThanksgiving2014 #OMGSoFull  #YesIAteThat 

Then: Kids arguing over the wishbone.
Now: Everyone takes a turn doing a wishbone selfie.

Then: Green bean casserole! Sneak all the crunchy onions off the top!
Now:   Green bean casserole. Sneak all the crunchy onions off the top!



Then: Grandpa’s wearing a leisure suit and bitching about taxes, Democrats and gas prices.
Now: Grandpa is still wearing a leisure suit and bitching about taxes, Democrats and gas prices.

Then: Ehn, we’ll probably go cut down a tree in a couple weeks and get it up in time for Christmas, once we untangle all the darned strings of Christmas lights we tossed in a cardboard box in the basement.
Now: That sucker’s been up since Halloween. Pre-lit, for the win.

Then: Here have a slice of Mrs. Smith’s Pumpkin Pie with some Cool Whip on top.
Now: How about a pumpkin spice latte with pumpkin spice oreos, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice Milano cookies, pumpkin spice kale chips, pumpkin spice coffee with pumpkin spice creamer to go in it, pumpkin spice bagels with pumpkin spice cream cheese, pumpkin spice hummus, pumpkin spice marshmallows and pumpkin spice m&ms? And if your skin feels a little dry we also have pumpkin spice hand cream which goes nicely with our pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice air freshener and pumpkin spice shampoo.

Then: You got out of bed excited to see Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Bullwinkle and Kermit float down Broadway in the Macy’s Parade. You were really excited to see the Rockettes too and if the reception was bad you were totally willing to hold the tin foil on the rabbit ears so you didn’t miss a thing.
Now: You get out of bed excited to see Pikachu, Sponge Bob and some freaky looking, faceless, silver rabbit thing floating down Central Park South. And okay, you’re still really excited to see The Rockettes and if the satellite goes out on the TV it’s fine. You can live stream the parade on your laptop.



Then: Your family’s nuts, you’re stuffed, you’re happy and most of all, you’re thankful for everything.
Now: Your family’s nuts, you’re stuffed, you’re happy and most of all, you’re thankful for everything.

#HappyThanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Bouqs - Product Review!

This post contains affiliate links and I was given a free bouquet of flowers in exchange for an honest review.

I always said that if I were really rich that I would always have fresh flowers in all the rooms of my home. I would change them seasonally, have themed flowers, flowers growing, cut flowers. I really love flowers. I'm definitely not one of those girls who complains about flowers being impermanent or that red roses are unoriginal. I love them all. Flowers are one of the ways to my heart. Another tip? Give me chocolate AND flowers and I'm pretty much putty in your hands. But anyway...

I also like to send flowers to other people. Unfortunately this is usually cost prohibitive and difficult. A long time ago I used Hallmark Flowers exclusively to send arrangements mostly to my grandmothers or for funerals, etc. They were reasonable, reliable and had consistent quality but then, unfortunately, Hallmark discontinued their flower department. I tried Martha Stewart with okay results, but she too discontinued her flower service. FTD and the like were left but I often found them to be expensive and really unreliable. You'd order one thing and get something totally different, which sucks and can be embarrassing so honestly, I stopped sending people flowers through the mail. I only deliver them in person now. That's kind of sad though because there are many occasions where I want someone far away to receive a bouquet.

Luckily, I think I may have found a solution.

A couple months ago (sorry guys) The Bouqs, a new floral delivery service, contacted me and offered to let me pick out a free bouquet of flowers from their web site in exchange for a review. Great, I thought, because as I said before, I LOVE flowers!

The first thing about The Bouqs that impressed me was their aggressive marketing skills, but we all know that without a great product your marketing skills amount to nothing but BS. For me to be really impressed, these guys needed to deliver. Umm, literally I guess since we're talking mail order flowers.

When I went on their website to choose my free review bouquet (okay not totally because I had to pay for shipping, but that's fine) I was really impressed. A lot of times I get frustrated when I try to order anything online. Sometimes site layouts can be confusing and annoying and I have a hard time finding what I'm looking for. Not here. These guys have their site organized beautifully and it's not too cluttered. You can easily see the products and prices and the ordering instructions are simple and pretty much hassle-free. Big plus to me because I kind of hate shopping and filling out online forms. If something is even remotely annoying to fill out I will usually say, screw it and give up. I'm kind of ADD like that.

The best part for me, and I honestly thought this was genius, was that when you look at each bouquet they offer, you can see customers' pictures of the same products. I LOVED this idea because look, we all know catalog style photos aren't totally realistic. I would rather see a real customer's actual photo of their actual bouquet and how they displayed it. I found this enormously helpful. Loved, loved, loved this idea. You can also go on Instagram and search the hashtags #bouqs and #bouqslove to see real photos of the flowers.

I chose the Confetti Bouquet and I picked this one because I thought for reviewing purposes I should pick something basic and yet colorful and probably roses since people most commonly send roses. They arrived in a big box via Fed Ex a couple days later. They were heavily packaged and the stems were coated in some kind of gel that keeps the flowers alive and fresh and even though I live in stinking hot Florida the flowers were cold when they arrived so I'm guessing they ship them refrigerated somehow? Anyway, the flowers were very sturdy and healthy but be careful unwrapping roses. These had a lot of very big thorns and I kept getting poked. I kind of wish they could clip some of those off before sending them, at least the giant ones, but that might be labor intensive.

Here is one word of caution. When you order flowers from The Bouqs you are not ordering from a traditional florist where the flowers come already prepared and arranged for you in a vase. You or your recipient need to find your own vases and the arranging is up to you once you get the flowers out of the box. I don't particularly mind this, especially if I'm saving money but for a more romantic occasion where you want the showy arrangement with the balloons and the crystal vase and the whole shebang you might want to go with a traditional florist instead. I'm just saying.

My flowers were very fresh. They really seemed like they were picked and immediately packed and sent and I was glad to see they weren't wilty and that they had thick, strong stems. These flowers arrived in very good shape. I cut their stems, divided them into a few different vases for different rooms and by the next day they had all fully opened. So pretty. I was really happy that I chose The Confetti because they were very colorful. I'm big on color and I got a good variety. My favorite were the lavender roses.

They lasted about a week. I probably should have tossed them after six or seven days but I got attached so at ten days, when they were truly a lost cause and getting stinky I threw them away. But I was sad to see them go. Some people have luck drying roses, but I didn't feel like doing that.

Now here are my criticisms. I pride myself on doing complete honest reviews. I think my readers deserve that and if I'm going to recommend something I'm going to tell you the truth. I think some of the arrangements are too pricy especially because you can run down to your nearest Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and get the same thing. For instance, check out my favorite arrangement from the current holiday themes. It's five sunflowers. For fifty dollars. Seriously?? You can get that at the grocery store for around $12.99 here and cheaper at Trader Joe's where I've seen comparable sunflower bouquets for as low as $5.99. A lot of the bouquets are prices competitively and reasonably, but some, like this one, are not. I think The Bouqs could do a little better there.

My other issue is not so much a criticism but more of a wish list. I wish The Bouqs offered a little more obvious theming. I like to send flowers that are obvious to the occasion or holiday. If you click on holiday themes now you are led to a page of orange bouquets gleaned from other collections. I think this is an area where The Bouqs needs improvement. If I could get a really nice, Thanksgiving arrangement I would totally order it but I want something that says Thanksgiving more than just the color orange, you know? Maybe some wheat, some berries of some sort, fall leaves? I am anxious to see what they will offer for Christmas. I'd like to see some poinsettias, holly and pine and something uniquely beautiful that cannot be found faster and cheaper at the grocery store.

Other than that, I had a positive experience with this company. Their strong points are the ease in ordering, the efficiency in delivery and most definitely the freshness and quality of the flowers. I wish them much success and thank them for letting me try and review their product!
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Tips for Parents Dealing With Picky Eaters or How to Get Your Kid to Eat...Something.

1. Speak french all the time. Play "La Vie en Rose" on a loop and wear jaunty neck scarves whenever you are around your child. Prepare elaborate, cream-sodden, multi-course meals each night and drink as much red wine as possible. At the very least, after this much effort you should be able to get your kid to at least take a bite of a chocolate croissant and at least you get wine. If all else fails, you could just move to France because everyone over there is perfect and immediately upon arrival on french soil your jeune fille will be eating aubergine and betterave and channeling her inner Amelie.




2. Plant a large, organic vegetable garden with your little one. Children enjoy digging in the dirt and seeing where vegetables come from. After hours of backbreaking labor, a fortune spent on seeds, compost and god knows what else, this method is guaranteed to get your child to eat...dirt. While gardening your kid will definitely eat some dirt. And possibly a snail he found while playing in the mud while you attempt to prune your zucchini, but that's great because ESCARGOT! See #1 again. Escargot are french.

3. Do not engage in power struggles with your child over food. Mainly because you will lose. Every. Single. Time. You are powerless over mac and cheese from a box, frozen waffles and gummi anything.

4. Leave your children at someone else's house for a brief time. They may shriek with terror and act like you are trying to poison them if you so much as offer a single green pea but for your sister? They'll gladly eat marrow braised broccolini with sea urchin beurre blanc. They do this to screw with your head. They think it's hysterical when your sister says: "I don't know why you think they're so picky. They ALWAYS eat for me."

5. Take your pre-schooler for a ride in the car. Guaranteed he or she will find an entire meal of stale, half-crushed goldfish, old Cheerios and lint-covered fruit snacks in the crevices of the car seat and chow down. 








6. Let your child help you prepare a meal. Children love to assist in the kitchen and after you spend a whole night in the ER (relax, she only got 3 stitches from the paring knife, could've been worse) you'll both be starving and you can stop at the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru on the way home. Your kid will exclaim with glee "Mommy! Can we cook together more often? Stitches were totally worth getting to have chicken nuggets and waffle fries!"

7. Never use dessert as a reward. Serve them dessert at the same time as their meal and let your young one moderate his or her own food choices. This method really works if you want your kid to eat. He or she will definitely eat. The dessert. The kale will remain untouched but the vanilla pound cake with strawberry frosting will be gone in less than thirty seconds. Remember that old Bill Cosby routine about chocolate cake being healthy because it has grain, milk and eggs? Yeah. Go with that. Bill Cosby is a wise man.


8. Small children love dips. Customizing their food gives them a sense of control! It also ensures that at some point you will utter the phrases: "Ranch dressing isn't a beverage!!" and "That hummus is NOT hand lotion!!" But ranch is kind of nutritious, right?

9. Make a tasty nibbler tray! Spend an hour carving several healthy vegetables and fruits into fun shapes and adorable cut outs. Arrange them beautifully in an ice cube tray (does anyone have those anymore??) and set it out where your youngster can graze as he plays. On crayons, sticker paper and pretty much everything in the general vicinity of the tasty nibbler tray EXCEPT what is in the tasty nibbler tray.




10. Get a cat or a dog. Pets are great for children and playing with a beloved animal will help them work up an appetite. Kids simply can't resist a nice bowl of cat or dog crunchies, especially if they've been sitting out for several hours and have lots of dog slobber and pet hair stuck to them. Kibble is even better when dipped in the pet's water dish. Fear not, have you seen the ingredients in pet food these days? Salmon? Brown Rice? Kale? Omega 3s? Shoot, they even make GLUTEN FREE cat food now.

11. Don't give up. Keep presenting unwanted vegetables to your children and eventually they will become familiar treats. Of course by then your kids will be 19 and away in college and said vegetables will be offered by Hare Krishnas at their free vegetarian dinners, but whatever. Hare Rama. Your son and daughter finally ate some broccoli and cabbage. They're vegans now too and so what if they're wearing bindis and smell like Nag Champa and are threatening to follow a jam band around the country? You've done your job, Mom. Just look at them tearing up those veggie burritos.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Stop Being An Asshole on The Internet


I guess it's safe to say that last week I had a post go viral and while I have experienced some small degree of Internet success before, this was like nothing that had ever previously happened.

It got so crazy that a friend actually messaged me and said she was worried about me. I reassured her that I was fine.

"But the comments!" she said.

"I ignore them," I told her.

Because I do. And so should you. And you and you too.

Trust me, I get that this can be extremely difficult. For like the first fifteen minutes of my article being viral I was truly tempted to read and respond to comments but then my better sense took hold and I went and played with my daughter and convinced myself that none of it existed. Because honestly? It doesn't.

Comments on the Internet aren't real. They don't matter. They rarely (if ever) make any actual difference in our lives unless, of course, we let them. They are like the noise of a traffic jam. Picture yourself trapped on a giant, crowded parking lot of a freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour in a rainstorm where everyone has road rage and PMS and probably caffeine withdrawal too all at once. Imagine the sounds of the honking horns, the yelling, the skidding and braking, tires squealing. But also imagine yourself safe inside your car, ignoring the noise, turning up some NPR and waiting it out. That's what you have to do with comments on the Internet, be they on facebook, in a forum or a Facebook group, the comments section of a blog post or any other form of online communication. 

The opinions of total strangers are inconsequential. They are to be taken in stride. A lot of them are seriously bat shit crazy. Case in point: someone managed to somehow, God help them, make my back to school post about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. I kid you not. That takes some skill. This person was like an advanced level Internet troll to make a leap like that. I was sort of impressed.

Last week my article ended up on the Huffington Post and I was so excited. Having a piece on there has been a long term career goal of mine and I was prepared. My friends started calling me up and asking me if I had seen the comments on there and oh my God people were calling me names!!!

I never read a single one of them. I don't really care if people were calling me names because first of all these people are strangers, their behavior reflects more poorly on them than it ever could on me and I just don't care.



The first rule of fight club, I mean writing for Huffington or any other big online publication is "NEVER READ THE COMMENTS."

You know those jail scenes in movies where someone has to walk through a corridor of cells and the prisoners inside are all going totally ape shit yelling and screaming, spitting, throwing poop and hurling insults? That's Huffington's comment section and you've got to walk through there unscathed, pretending none of it exists. Don't dare engage with the rioters or someone's going to reach out through the bars and wipe his jizz on you. Do not make eye contact with the prisoners under any circumstances.

That's how I maintain my sanity most of the time, but although I have a pretty much iron will about this sort of thing, it can still be hard, and my experience last week has me thinking.




We all need to stop being such assholes on the Internet.

But, duh. That's kind of obvious, right? I think we all know this already as it applies to others, but not to ourselves. So I decided to make a handy guide.

Are You Being An Asshole on the Internet?

1. Are you arguing with a total stranger?

2. Are you mad because someone on the Internet is wrong?

3. Did you read something that pissed you off on the Internet and decide that you needed to respond to it immediately? Like NOW.

4. Were you personally offended by something someone else said or did on the Internet?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions you need to get off of the computer immediately, get a popsicle and go outside and no, you can't bring your phone. You need a break. You are most likely being an asshole on the Internet. If you look up you might see the underside of a bridge because you could very well be a troll.

If you have determined (as hard as it is to admit) that you are at risk for being an asshole on the Internet, please read the following words of advice.

How to Stop Being an Asshole on the Internet

1. Take a deep breath. Step away from the computer or phone or whatever freaking device you are using to be an asshole on the Internet.

2. Gain some perspective. There are many many people in the world who have different opinions than you and that is okay. There are people with different aesthetic preferences, different ideas of what is funny, different thresholds for finding things offensive and different backgrounds that all contributed to their differing worldviews. And we are all going to be okay in spite of this. 

3. You aren't going to change anyone's mind by arguing with them on Facebook or in a comments section. I know this is a hard truth to bear, but suck it up and face the facts. Arguing never convinces anyone. It just makes them more mad and more defensive.

4. Pointing out that someone else is wrong doesn't automatically make you right.

5. If you really want to change people's minds and opinions, don't worry about them at all. Live your own best life and be a role model. For example, if you are a vegan animal rights activist, instead of shaming meat eaters and arguing and calling them all murderers, how about let them taste your yummy vegan food? Let them see how healthy your glow is and how great you feel. Then when they ask your secret, tell them it's because you don't eat animal products and leave it at that. If they ask about it, answer their questions. And if they don't ever ask and keep eating steaks? Who cares? Keep doing the thing you love and feel is best for you.

6. Many of the bloodiest Internet arguments I've seen have been between parents with different views on how to best raise kids. Let me end this shit right now. First, kids are pretty resilient. The fact that I survived my childhood and grew up to write this post is testament to that. Second, there's a very wide margin of error in child raising. If children are loved, fed and sheltered they're pretty much going to be okay. If you are really worried about the well being of children then take your smug ass of the computer and save the kids who actually need it, you know, the ones who live in poverty and abuse in our inner-cities and impoverished rural areas. Help the kids who live in shelters, the kids whose mothers' boyfriends beat the crap out of them, the kids who have no access to fresh fruits and have to eat a bag of Cheetos for dinner. Stop bitching out some bedraggled, middle class mom with a blog who stopped breastfeeding after a week and switched to formula and channel your venom into fixing a world where children in the projects actually choke to death on cockroaches. How about that?

7. We are all on our own paths in life. We learn at our own pace through different experiences. Many people's belief systems, especially the ones you think are really messed up, were cemented at a young age. Many people believe the things they do because they were born into certain belief systems. Often, we inherit our opinions from our cultures, religions and families. Sometimes our beliefs are sealed by fear. Some people will be able to change their minds and others won't. That's just the way it goes and you and your online raving isn't going to make much of a dent, so have compassion and try to put yourself in someone else's position, imagining how or why they believe what they do and then leave it alone.

8. Go do something fun. Please. Get out of the house and engage in some real-life, face to face positive human interaction.

9. Make this your new mantra: Just because someone says something doesn't make it true. 


 10. In the event that you have posted something on the Internet which has inspired comments understand this: no matter what it is, 1/3 of people will love it, 1/3 will be indifferent and 1/3 will hate it. Out of the 1/3 that hate it, a significant portion is likely to
be insane. It's not personal. It's kind of a numbers game and you can't please everyone.

11. By next week the people you're arguing with are likely to have completely forgotten you anyway so who cares?

12. Your opinion, rant, diatribe, etc. ultimately doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. If you are passionate about a topic then go out and actually do something. Take action. You might think that commenting is taking action but it's not. It can be the start of action in the best possible scenario, but usually it isn't.

13. When you bitch someone out, call them names, wish ill will to the mothers of people you have never met and will never meet, you are, alas, only reflecting poorly upon yourself and not the other person. How you act and what you say is always only about you. 

14. Audrey Hepburn, the embodiment of grace and class would never have sat behind her keyboard for three hours calling a woman in Nebraska a stupid, twat-licking whore. I'm sorry, but it never would have happened. So before you type, take a moment to ask yourself "Would Audrey Hepburn have said this?" And if the answer is no, which it probably will be, then don't say it. Move on. Be elegant and eloquent like Audrey.

15. Have some ice cream (and yes, I am aware that by including this that someone somewhere is going to read it and blame me for furthering the obesity epidemic and I am fine with that.)

16. And for the love of God, if after all this you still feel you must insult someone or express your distaste for something someone has written, please proofread and check your spelling. Okay?
Friday, August 29, 2014

Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi by Brian Leaf: Book Review!


This post contains affiliate links and I was sent a free book in return for a review (except I was totally going to buy and review this book anyway).

Last summer I discovered, read and
absolutely loved Brian Leaf's first memoir Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness . You can imagine how excited I was when I found out that he had a new book coming out this year! I love when I don't have to wait forever in between the books of my favorite authors.


Turns out that Mr. Leaf and I have both written for elephantjournal.com and that we had a lot in common. He even accepted my friend request on Facebook, woohoo. So I was extra excited to receive a free copy of his new book Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting , which, yes, I was going to buy and review anyway.

In his first book, Brian Leaf writes about how debilitating stomach problems led him to discover yoga and Ayurveda. The book is hilarious, quirky and talks a lot about poop, all the things I love and the second memoir, about his take on mindful/ holistic parenting is equally great.

What really makes this book stand out is Leaf's humor, self-deprecating wit and his friendly, familiar writing voice. For me, a lot of the information in the book was probably "preaching to the choir" but I was fine with that. I most enjoyed Leaf's personal anecdotes and parenting disasters and reading about how much he adores and respects his wife is truly heartening. I love the advice he gives on playful and free-range parenting (two things I really support) and I can honestly say that I used some of the suggestions in this book when my daughter was acting like she needed an exorcist and they worked. Her head immediately stopped spinning. No joke.

Do I agree with everything in here? No, of course not. I'm not quite to the level of earthy crunchy as the Leaf family, but that's okay. We all parent differently and our children are all loved and cared for and that's what's nice about this book. You won't feel judged if you don't practice elimination communication or if you are not an "intactivist" who has had an orgasmic home birth (so not me). Leaf advocates for those things, but his total lack of smugness about them is really refreshing. This is the kind of book that no matter what your parenting philosophy happens to be, that you can still take away some excellent advice, new tips and a lot of laughs. 

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