Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Television Spotlight: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

Photo source: PBS

Last night I had the great opportunity to attend a screening and Q&A event at the US embassy in London. The screening was held in advance of the showing of  Ken Burns' The Roosevelts: An Intimate History series that will be shown here in the UK on PBS America. The Q&A session featured documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and actor Stanley Tucci. We were shown some excerpts from the 14 hour series and it made me excited to see the full series when it starts to air here on October 19th. It was so interesting to hear these two discuss the creative process in general and also how Burns does what he does.

Ken Burns is known for his exceptional documentaries and I have enjoyed many of them over the years. His films truly make history come alive. You're learning while you're being entertained. Burns' films always help me see beyond what may be written in a history book. He does a great job of making the humanity of people show through. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History looks like another excellent offering by Ken Burns and getting a chance to hear from him directly during the Q&A session was amazing. He described some of the process that he goes through in the making of each film, which can take years to complete just one.

I've always been especially interested in Eleanor Roosevelt because she has always struck me as a woman who was ahead of her time. It will be a great treat to see the full series and get a look at Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt's lives with a much fuller examination of the lesser known details of their lives.

One thing that I love about Ken Burns' documentaries are the readings that he includes from the letters and writings of people throughout history. He gets some wonderfully talented people who use their voices to bring the voices that are now silent alive again. In The Roosevelts: An Intimate History he uses the voices of Paul Giamatti, Edward Herrmann, Meryl Streep, Patricia Clarkson, Adam Arkin, Philip Bosco, Keith Carradine, Ed Harris, John Lithgow, Carl Lumbly, and Billy Bob Thornton.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History has already taken America by storm with much critical acclaim and popularity among viewers. When the first episode of the series premiered there recently, nine million people watched and it came in second in the ratings to football. That's a testament to the interest and to the quality of this story.

Here are some recent quotes that have been in the press about the series:

“Within the first hour, “The Roosevelts” will probably have you hooked.”
    Hank Stuever, The Washington Post, September 12, 2014

“[Ken Burns] continues to illuminate American history with extraordinary fervor.”
   Matt Roush, TV Guide, September 12, 2014

Those are only a couple of the numerous quotes, but the praise for this amazing series continues to grow. I think that when it premieres here in the UK in October it will be well-received also. I know that I'll definitely be watching!

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History will begin on Sunday, October 19th on PBS America in the UK at 8pm and every Sunday night at the same time until completion on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media 243.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Weekend

These are my feet...well, this is a picture of my feet a few weeks ago :) Sexy huh? Not even! LOL. I was out having a walk in my favorite walking shoes. They ain't pretty, but they've carried me a lot of miles around England ;-)  Hopefully I'll be out enjoying a long walk this weekend too if it's not raining.

I'm also planning on working on my book , like I've been doing over these last few weekends. I usually work on it more on weekdays, but I still try to write a tiny bit on weekends to keep my mind clicking over. I'm trying to improve my discipline about writing regularly which is so important as I'm diving deeper into writing my book. Writing isn't a chore though. It never has been. Writing has always been a part of my life since I was a child. I've written a journal for many years. I don't write in my journal each day, but I write in it pretty regularly. These days I'm just working on developing my practice of writing something every single day even if it's just a few lines. I know that it's helping me to grow :)

I don't know what else I'll be getting up to, but whatever I do, I'm gonna do my best to enjoy! I mean, it's the weekend so YAY! ;-)

I hope that everyone out there
 has a great weekend also!

Until next time...

P.S. ~ I have a fun event in London coming up on Monday and I'll share the details next week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Spotlight: Total Knockout Fitness

I'm always looking for ways get healthier. I admit that I eat things that are not so good for me now and then, but I believe in balance and moderation and it works pretty good for me. I try to get some exercise in each day even if it's simply a short walk. I find that I like a bit of variety.

Recently I was given the opportunity to read a book called, Total Knockout Fitness by Martin McKenzie and Stefanie Kirchner, which also comes with a DVD. I've been trying out the DVD and I've enjoyed it a lot. It's a complete program that is a blend of cardio, boxing, and cross-training exercises. The DVD is 64 minutes long, but is broken down into sections according to users' fitness levels. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced level workouts which also feature warm-up and cool down sections. I liked that the DVD was set up in bite-sized pieces like that. It made the workout not seem so daunting. I'm still at the beginner level, but I look forward to progressing to the other levels when my body is ready.

The book is very good at describing the workouts and it helps readers to plan their workout strategies. There are color photographs which depict many of the exercises and it goes along well with the DVD.

Total Knockout Fitness has been created by personal trainer Martin McKenzie and holistic health therapist Stefanie Kirchner. They've brought their know-how together in this great program that works the entire body very well.

The book is broken down into the following sections:

Round 1 - Equipment
Round 2 - Knowing Your Opponent
Round 3 - Tipping the Scales in Your Favour
Round 4 - Total Knockout Fitness Exercises
Round 5 - Warm-Ups
Round 6 - Form and Footwork
Round 7 - Punch Precision
Round 8 - Total-Body Training
Round 9 - Flexibility
Round 10 - Cardio
Round 11 - Weight Loss
Round 12 - Toning and Shaping
Round 13 - Strength and Power
Round 14 - Going the Extra Round

It's a challenging workout, but it's also been fun for me. It has just enough variety to keep me interested, especially since I'm not a die-hard workout person. Who knows? This workout program may just be what I need to get me into working out a lot more frequently. I have really been enjoying it.

If you would like to purchase the book, you can do so here


Disclaimer: This book and DVD were sent to me free of charge in exchange for a review. All opinions are mine. Also, please consult your physician before attempting this program or any other. I am not a healthcare professional and I am not dispensing health advice. I am speaking of my own experience with this product only.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Marathon Reading and Weekends

Well, here we are...it's Friday and the weekend begins! It's been a busy week for me, but it's all good. I'm working towards my dreams. Even though I can't see any results yet I know that they'll be showing themselves soon  :-)

This is kind of a catch up post and a happy weekend post in one. The catching up part is to share that I FINALLY finished the book that I've been reading. It seems like forever that I've been trying to finish it and last night I did. Yay! I was reading The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling and I mentioned it in earlier posts here and here.  As you can see from those posts, they were both Fridays. I guess that Fridays are my book contemplation days. You can also see that those posts were a month and two months ago! LOL. I guess you could say that this book has been my summer beach read that I took to the beach and everywhere else trying to finish it. As I mentioned in one of the posts, I'm not a particularly slow reader, but I have a tendency to get distracted by other things and then I come back and read some more. I guess you could call me a bite-size reader. I don't know. Lol. Anyway, I get there in the end.

Now, as promised I'll share a few thoughts on the book. I enjoyed it. As I said, in a previous post, I'm not much of a crime fiction reader but I enjoyed the book. The book is set in London and follows the investigation of the suicide of a supermodel, who falls to her death from a balcony in the swanky Mayfair area. Her brother doubts that it was suicide, so he hires private detective Cormoran Strike to investigate. Strike travels around within the model's privileged circle of friends and associates to get to the truth about her death. It's an interesting whodunit that takes readers into the world of celebrity culture.

I liked the book, but for me it seemed to drag a bit about three quarters of the way through. Still I found it entertaining and it was well worth the read. If I had to rate it out of five stars I'd give it a three and a half.


I'm hoping to get some rest this weekend and just enjoy being  :-)  That'll probably include watching a few movies on TV, maybe having some pancakes for breakfast, and working on my book. Also, I'm going to decide on what to read next. The list is long. I have a stack right next to the bed, so I think that I'll just kick the pile and see what falls on the floor nearest my foot. I'm pretty random sometimes...what can I say!  ;-) 

Happy Weekend to Everyone!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Food Feature: Nibnibs

I love a good snack and I find that usually I lean more towards savoury snacks rather than sweet ones. Don't get me wrong...I do love sweets too, but having something savoury especially that's portable is a big plus for me.

Recently I've had the opportunity to try out a delicious range of savoury snacks called Nibnibs.  They are delicious snacks produced in their bakery in North Yorkshire using the finest ingredients. I've been able to try the Exceptional Cheddar & Spicy Chilli Straws, Exceptional Cheddar & Cheeky Onion Straws, Roasted Salt & Pepper Jumbo Peanuts, and the Exceptional Cheddar Cheese Straws. They were all so tasty and very enjoyable to munch on. The original Exceptional Cheddar Cheese Straws had a lovely, satisfying flavor and the other varieties with the chilli and onion flavors were delicious also. The variations offered good variety to the snacks without overpowering the original cheddar flavor. All of the flavors of cheese straws had a delightful crunch. Also, I love peanuts and these were delectable. The seasoning was perfectly done and didn't get in the way of the peanuts themselves at all.

Nibnibs come in convenient tubular packaging which makes the containers just the right size to carry in your bag if you want to snack on the go. The Nibnibs come sealed in a foil pouch within the container and each container has a resealable lid.

As I said at the beginning, I love a good savoury snack and Nibnibs are now a firm favorite with me. If you'd like to try them for yourself, why not enter the giveaway below for your chance to win some?

Note: This giveaway is open to UK residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about their full range of products, please visit their site here.

You can also connect with them on Twitter and Facebook

*Disclaimer: I was sent this product to try in exchange for a review. Opinions are my own.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Art Spotlight: Paragon Fine Art Gallery

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fine Art Gallery. All opinions are 100% mine.
I'm an art lover and I always have been it seems. I love visiting the museums and galleries in London and Bath whenever I can because I love seeing the amazing creativity of the various artists. I'm always intrigued when I find new places to appreciate art. Recently I've found out about a wonderful Art Gallery located in the San Francisco Bay area called Paragon Fine Art. They are a full service

Book Spotlight - House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana

House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart,
 published by Glitterati Incorporated, http://glitteratiincorporated.com

One of my favorite things to do is to read, think, and dream about home decorating. I love thinking about new ways to make my surroundings reflect my interests and personality. I'm a firm believer that your home should be a place of comfort that celebrates your own particular viewpoint in this world. Our tastes and sense of personal style are what make us unique and having a home that reflects this is a wonderful thing.

Author: Valorie Hart

In the book, House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, published by Glitterati Incorporated, I found numerous wonderful examples of the self-expression that some people put into their homes. This is a book with beautifully vibrant photographs of some of the most lovely houses in Louisiana.

House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated, 
House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated,  

I'm an avid user of Pinterest and I love to make collections of things to do with houses, especially the interiors. As I read through Valorie Hart's book, I kept thinking that every photo would be perfect to add to my online collection of photos. In looking at the beautiful homes featured in the book, I've found that one of the themes throughout is one that celebrates individuality. The colors and textures are so varied and you can see the love that these homeowners have put into creating the unique vibes of their homes.

House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated, 
House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated,

The author of the book, Valorie Hart, is a New Orleans-based interior designer and she draws upon her expert knowledge to guide readers through some of the most beautiful homes in Louisiana. The photographs by Sara Essex Bradley are an integral part of the book as they document each home in vivid detail. The teamwork of Hart and Bradley is brilliant. Together they have created a wonderful visual experience for readers.

The author puts it best as she writes in her introduction:

"The people in this book are you. They love their homes as you do. They love to decorate like you do...They lavish time and money on their homes like you do, and fling open their doors to friends and family, and now to you."
- Valorie Hart

House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart,
 published by Glitterati Incorporated,

House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated, 

I really love that we as readers get the chance to learn about the people who live in these lovely homes. It's intriguing to hear about some of the inspiration behind the decor of each house and their stories tie back very well to the main theme of being 'house proud'. Valorie Hart also offers great advice on repurposing furniture, displaying decorative pieces, and making good use of space. There is definitely a lot to learn and to enjoy between the pages of House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana.

This is a book that I truly enjoyed and I will certainly be referring to it over and over as I map my own path to creating the home that I envision.

House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana can be purchased here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, September 04, 2014


I just thought that I'd share a picture today. 
I love being out in nature! 
My favorite color is blue, but my second favorite color is definitely green :-)

Have a wonderful day!

Television Spotlight: Influenza 1918

Tonight on PBS America, there's a very interesting documentary being shown called Influenza 1918. I was sent a copy to view beforehand and I was really intrigued by what unfolded during the one hour film. This is a chapter in world history that saw the deaths of millions worldwide and this film documents the effect that this harsh sickness had on life in America in the early 20th century.

The sheer number of people who were killed by this epidemic is staggering. There are estimates that the amount of people who perished numbered three times as many as those who had just been lost in World War I. When the influenza of 1918 hit it was during the autumn as the conflict of the war was dying down.

This documentary by Robert Kenner tells the story of the disease in the United States showing up within the ranks of soldiers at an army base near Boston. And through a series of circumstances it kept spreading within the population like wildfire. The harshness is vividly displayed through archival photographs of over-capacity hospitals and mountains of coffins waiting for the latest victim. Incidentally, there was a shortage of coffins during this time since there were so many people dying every single day.

One thing that I found very haunting in the documentary was the rhyme that children of the time made up and sang on the playgrounds. It spoke of having a pet bird named Enza and they opened the window and in flew Enza. It spelled 'In-flu-enza'. Hearing the rhyme sang by children's voices in that sing-song way was chilling and it was very effective in conveying the fact that the epidemic spared very few. Many children died.

Influenza 1918 is a very informative documentary and I learned a lot from it. It did an excellent job of showing the plight of those who lived during this time. This film is a good reminder about the fragility of life. Even though the subject matter is serious, I found it to be very enlightening.  

Influenza 1918 will be shown tonight on PBS America in the UK at 10:15pm on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media 243.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this film for review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Television Spotlight: The War - A Film by Ken Burns

Tonight on PBS America an amazing fourteen part series called The War begins and will be shown weeknights. I was given the opportunity to watch the first two episodes ahead of time and I must say, it's an epic series. I'll definitely be watching the other episodes when it's broadcast each night.

The War is a series directed by Ken Burns and produced by Lynn Novick. From what I've seen in the first two episodes, they do an excellent job at telling this complex and wide-ranging story of World War II. I fully expect that the rest of the series will be as enthralling and informative. The story is told through the experiences of those who lived through that time and this gives a personal aspect of how it affected people in their everyday lives.

This film includes the experiences of veterans alongside photographs and historical footage which gives a well-rounded presentation of this world-changing event. As viewers we get to see what was at stake and the high price that was paid. This series is an excellent way to learn so much through the stories of those who lived it.

The War will be shown weeknights, and premieres tonight on PBS America in the UK at 9pm on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media 243.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this series for review. All opinions are mine.