Archive for ‘Blogging’

December 29th, 2014

633 Books and a Healthy Outlook

by Gwen


I obviously didn’t sleep as much as I should have this year and had very little of what most would call ‘a life’. There are a couple of days left, but let’s call it like a rained out baseball game- 633 books, at least 184,651 pages (some audiobooks don’t have a print version) and a healthier Gwen.

What turned the corner for my attitude this year was a series of subtle changes and finally, grabbing the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle in September.  I’ve had issues for years, but they were messy issues that were hard to put into words and get across to the people that might have been able to help. After decades of trying and failing, I found someone that was able to put a label on those issues and even better, ready to teach me the tools to conquer them.

One of the things that I was inspired to do was to really take a more proactive approach to my physical health. Like take an honest account of how much physical activity I actually did, stop blaming genes for why I was skeletal and explore ways to make me more comfortable with what I put in and on my body. It was a sort of re-making of Gwen and it was damn time.

So while I read and listened to books trying to keep the demons at bay, I also grabbed a fitness tracker, made changes to my diet, explored (okay, researched to death) the sustainability and eco-friendliness of the products I use, and more. Coffee and Diet Coke no longer have me in their grips and Soap Nuts replaced regular detergent, for example.

The last thing that I really wanted to learn was about essential oils. Yes, they are all the rage right now, I know, but they had been on my radar for years thanks to being an armchair herbalist for over a decade now. The Healthy Living Bundle was a boon for that for a bunch of reasons and the biggest one was the Essential Oils & Natural Health course from Vintage Remedies. This class alone was $95 and the whole bundle was just $30.  This isn’t one of those simple ecourses where you get an email everyday and a nice print out. Vintage Remedies has a whole online system with private audio, video, tests and the whole nine yards that you can take at your own pace.  It was as well thought out, even better really, than the online classes I have taken from the local colleges. It gave me so much confidence that I took what I learned and made all of my Christmas gifts and tailored them to each persons individual needs.

I obviously could go on for years, but wanted to shout from the rooftops what a great resource this whole bundle was. You might be the type that is making health-related  resolutions this week and this would be one way to take that on as well. There is so much included that I haven’t even gotten through all of the books yet!

So, the bundle is being offered again for just today and tomorrow and yes, I am now an affiliate so I am going to give you that link. There are things that blogger link to to make money and this one has been different for me personally. It isn’t just a book that I liked or a product that I believe in, it is something that actually was a big part of the smile on my face these days, changed my whole outlook and is a great value no matter what aspect of healthy living you subscribe to.

Here goes,

There are more details via the link, but as with everything …if I try to describe it, we would be here all flipping day:)

(I will just have to go on about the year in books later)

Sort of Like Gwen's Signature

March 5th, 2011

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die ~ The Series and a Confession

by Gwen

1001 Books


The end of last year, I made the mistake of buying this whopper of a book and decided that I would do my best to read each and everyone of the 1001 books or die trying. My plan was never to review each and every one of them here and then fate stepped in.

Off and on, for a year or so, a friend and I have been talking of creating a blog together that encompassed many things. She blogs about decorating, homeschooling and life with a side of humor, but wanted to reach out to more subjects. I blog about books and while I love it, I really feel stifled at times creatively. Sometimes I don’t want to be serious or critique other people’s art, I want to get back to creating my own once in a while. (Am I the only one that feels this way about book blogging at times?)

Fast forward to January, we decided to do it. Wit Behind the Ears is a sort of a smorgasbord of life. We have touched on Decorating, Organization, Homeschooling, Art/Crafts, Cooking, and more, but a series that I started is fast becoming near and dear to my heart.  What series is that you ask? 1001 Books I’m Reading So You Won’t Die

Not everyone makes the time in their lives to read like book bloggers do. That doesn’t mean that we can’t sneak in some awareness building book posts each week to the non-reading public. Each week, I have taken on two books from the list and encapsulated the story then told why it was on the list. Seldom to I hold back on what I really think, and that has been the bonus. It leaves me energized to write real reviews again for here and other places. I also get to share my love of the written word with people that probably wouldn’t take the time to read these classics on their own. Win-Win.

So consider this your invitation to an irreverent look at the classics over on Wit Behind the Ears. And……if you ever feel the urge to write about something other than books, feel free to drop me a line. I have a place saved for your post as long as you keep it real and a wee bit funny.


1001 Books I’m Reading So You Don’t Die



October 30th, 2010

September & October in Review

by Gwen

It was a strange month here at Chew & Digest. My TBR pile has exploded to the point where I am learning to say no to people and I have been working hard at reading some classics that I never quite got around to back in the day. I have to thank the Kindle for all of the free classics.

September I never got around to post this, so excuse me for including it here.

  1. Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy 2010 352 pp NF
  2. My Lost Daughter by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg 2010 448 pp
  3. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 1860 720 pp
  4. The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell 2010 352 pp
  5. The Book Stops Here by Ian Samson 2008 307 pp
  6. Dogfight, A Love Story by Mike Burgess 2010 304 pp
  7. Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help by Douglass Anthony Cooper 2008 224 pp
  8. The Bad Book Affair by Ian Samson 2010 368 pp
  9. The Monster of Florence by Douglass Preston & Mario Spezi 2008 368 pp NF
  10. Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read by Scott McNulty 2009 272 pp NF
  11. Field Guide to California Agriculture by Paul Starrs 2010 504 pp NF
  12. Create HTML Email that People Want to Read by Matthew Patterson 2010 200 pp NF
  13. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 1890 178 pp
  14. The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian 2010 304 pp
  15. The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Samson 2006 352 pp
  16. Tom Sawyer and the Undead by Don Borchart 2010 304 pp
  17. Redneck Country, Black Letter Law by John Russell Smith 2010 560 pages
  18. Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner 2010 320 pp


Rustic Onion and Goat Cheese Tart I experimented with this month.


  1. The Moneychangers by Upton Sinclair 1908 206 pp
  2. The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw 2010 368 pp
  3. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 1906 448 pp
  4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson 1886 94 pp
  5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving 1820 28 pp
  6. The Dark End of the Street  by Danielle McGlure 2010 324 pp NF
  7. Julita’s Sands: A Memoir by Emily Placido 2010 648 pp NF
  8. Banned in Boston by Neil Miller 2010 209 pp NF
  9. George Eliot in Love by Brenda Maddox 2010 238 pp NF
  10. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson 2008 336 pp
  11. The Name of the Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch 2007 363 pp
  12. What a Difference a Dog Makes by Dana Jennings 2010 156 pp NF
  13. The Titan by Theodore Dreiser 1914 589 pp

I put the classics in red just to see how many I did. During BBAW, I realized that I had put a halt to reading them and that made me sad. Now what makes me sad is that I have been so busy reading and reviewing for work, that I haven’t been reviewing for here too much.

New Problem. New Solution!

I have an exciting review filled week coming up.



October 27th, 2010

The Negative Factors of the Christmas Card

by Gwen

Now is the time of year when I start going nuts over Christmas cards. Only this year, it is a wee bit worse because I am trying to take myself seriously and plan to send out business-y looking  cards to some of my contacts as well.

I have been patiently perusing the selection at of photo cards, calendars, and really cute Christmas gift tags in preparation for ordering. As usual, I have issues.


Here are the things that I have to consider:

1. The Hate factor. Art hates having his picture taken. I think that I have 3 of him that I have taken and there is one of us together on a boat in Chicago which looks like we are so unhappy about our pending trip to the Artic. (we weren’t going to the Artic, just bundled up for a blizzard)

2. The Cringe Factor. Every picture I have ever had taken of myself makes me cringe. There is always a hair out of place, a blemish in full bloom, something that will forever kill that happy feeling that I am trying to give off.  (except for Senior Prom, I rocked that one, but that was 20 years ago)

3. The Vanity Factor. Part of me thinks that it is sort of vain to plaster yourself all over your Christmas cards. I mean, if you have kids, it’s great and fine, but if it is just you and you dog, because your partner doesn’t want the pictures of him being leaked to the world….it makes me look a bit vain.

4. The WHO-DIS Factor. Who am I sending these to and why? Do I choose one card and send them out to everyone? Or do I do a crazy warm wishing family cards to send to the fam and make more subtle Chew & Digest Books cards to my PR connections, employers, authors, and such?

5. The Cutsy, But I Don’t Have Wee Ones Factor. This could easily be solved by renting some rugrats from a neighbor and telling people that they are my kids, but that would be cheating. That and my neighbors grandchildren are Asian. We aren’t and I think that it would be pretty obvious if we use them to look like the are our kids. (on the other hand, it would look like we adopted….we could be Brangelina)

Still, I want to go through all of this to create something unique. With my budget, it is either this tiny splurge or everyone is getting coal and baked goods.





Am thinking about something simple like this for work stuff.















This isn’t our name, but an thinking of snatching these up for gift tags.





On the other hand, I just may buy everyone a calendar that has the same picture of Murphy over and over and over. You know, it would be the gift that keeps on giving. {insert drum role here}

So, what where do you get your Christmas cards? Have you used Shutterfly?



September 22nd, 2010

5 Things I Learned at the Central Coast Book & Author Festival

by Gwen


On Sunday I put on real pants and went to the Central Coast Book & Author Festival in San Luis Obispo, CA. Getting me into pants with zippers and shoes with actual laces is no mean feat, I whine, bitch, and moan. However, I am grateful that I went and here are some of the reasons why……


1. There is something whimsical about sitting in a Carnegie Library. I attended a few sessions and there were times that it was hard to pay attention to what the speaker was saying because I was so busy staring at all of the architectural details.



2. Anthologies seem like a lot of hard work for the editors. Victoria Zackheim talked about her experiences as editor of with The Other Woman, For Keeps, and The Face in the Mirror. On the other hand, she has worked with the likes of Alan Dershowitz and Jane Smiley.

3. The setting for a book is often a character all by itself. Gordon Snider talked about 1906 San Francisco, the setting for his book, The Hypnotist. It was an unforgiving place even before the earth started shaking and the fires started.

4. There are 4 elements to a short story according to Sunny Frazier and Doug Danielson. They are your best sentence, a universal message, authenticating details and you have to tell the reader something they don’t know.

5. Sometimes being somewhat rude can be a great way to meet people. Funny story, I walked up to one table and before even smiling or saying hello, author K.M. Kavanagh yelled out, “I am leaving in 10 minutes so if you want a book, you have to buy it now!” I couldn’t help it, I laughed and mentioned that it was a unique book selling technique. We talked for a while after that and she was nice enough to give me her book.

SLO Mission Plaza

It was a great day down at Mission Plaza and a huge success for me personally. Truth be told, I don’t get out much and I am beginning to get way too comfy in sweat pants and Crocs. Like Meg wrote in her recent post, How Blogging Has Made My Life Pretty Awesome, blogging has given me so much self confidence and opened up so many new vistas.

So tell me, what have you learned lately and what has blogging done for you?