Monday, November 24, 2014

Seasonal Family Favorites on PBS KIDS!

‘Tis the season for family favorites on PBS KIDS! On November 26, PBS KIDS will kick off the holidays with the return of CURIOUS GEORGE: A Very Monkey Christmas. In this fun-filled one-hour special, families can join their favorite monkey and the Man with the Yellow Hat as they count down the days until Christmas.

The holiday fun continues throughout December with new episodes from other PBS KIDS series. Viewers will help Otto and Olive solve a reindeer case in an all-new episode of ODD SQUAD, celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with Peg and Cat in a one-hour PEG + CAT + HOLIDAYS special, spread cheer with new engine friends Gator and Reg on THOMAS & FRIENDS and go on a winter adventure featuring The Nutcracker Ballet with DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD.

Mailbox Monday - November 24

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

It's been a few weeks since I've participated in Mailbox Monday. Real estate is keeping me very busy. My first listing hit the market last week and I have been showing houses to buyers all weekend long. When I'm not showing houses on Sunday, I'm facilitating open houses. I'm loving it, but I'm still struggling to find some balance. I've made a bit of time for reading, but not as much as I would like.

The following book was ordered from They had a great sale going on and I couldn't resist.

Settling the vast open prairies, weathering the winter storms, and finding joy to celebrate during Christmas epitomizes the pioneer experience. In this unique collection of nine Christmas romances, readers will relive a prairie Christmas with all its challenges and delights as penned by multi-published authors, including Tracie Peterson and Deborah Raney.

Take Me Home by Tracey Bateman
One Wintry Night by Pamela Griffin
Image of Love by JoAnn A. Grote
The Christmas Necklace by Maryn Langer
A Christmas Gift of Love by Darlene Mindrup
God Jul by Tracie Peterson
Circle of Blessings by Deborah Raney
Christmas Cake by Janet Spaeth
Colder Than Ice by Jill Stengl

The warmth of Christmas will radiate in new love from the high plains of Minnesota and Dakota Territory, across the rolling hills of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, and down into the flats of Kansas. Filled with inspiration and faith, each story will become a treasure to be enjoyed again next year.

What books arrived in your mailbox? I'm working most of the day and then have a meeting in the evening, so it might be tomorrow before I return your comment. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Session Director's Guide to Commercial Acting in L.A. Book Blitz - Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card

Shaan Sharma’s A SESSION DIRECTOR’S GUIDE TO COMMERCIAL ACTING IN L.A. is the commercial acting industry’s most comprehensive book ever written - - giving readers a step-by-step guide to breaking into and prospering in the commercial acting business in the world’s entertainment center, Los Angeles. Fusing his experience, wisdom, vignettes and wit – Sharma is about to change the lives of those who thought big-picture acting was nothing but a fantasy, as well as those commercial veterans who could be even more successful.

Readers of this book will learn how to become successful working actors in TV commercials in Los Angeles in this fun step-by-step guide by top Casting Session Director and Commercial Actor Shaan Sharma. “This isn’t hype – it’s tangible advice I have gained from running auditions for over 400 commercial spots,” says Sharma. “Readers will hit the ground running as they discover how the business works and what to expect, how to find good acting classes, refine their look, get headshots, get representation, get in with the top commercial casting directors, navigate the audition and call-back process, life on set and even how to stay busy between acting jobs. There’s also a bonus chapter for parents interested in getting their children into acting. The commercial acting world is so different than that of theater, TV and film that new students and veterans alike need to make the most of the time and money they invest in their careers.”

Shaan went on to say, “The kind of information in this book can only come from someone who has experience both in front of and behind the camera, who works with the top casting directors, directors, ad agencies and companies in the world. There are no other books out there like it. So, if you want to get into commercial acting in L.A. – this is your guidebook.”

Having directed audition sessions for over four hundred national commercial spots for dozens of L.A.’s top casting directors, Shaan Sharma is a well-known veteran of his industry. Now expanding his reach through a powerful new book, Shaan is looking to help thousands of actors better navigate their way through the commercial acting business by putting into practice the tips and information he has spent fifteen years discovering. Regardless of experience level, A SESSION DIRECTOR’S GUIDE TO COMMERCIAL ACTING IN L.A. contains insider knowledge that will help actors better understand the process and in turn be more successful. Shaan’s book features compelling illustrations by Paul Loudon.

203 pages
E-book, $19.99; ISBN: 9780990408024
Softback, $29.99; ISBN: 9780990408000
Publication date: September 22, 2014
Published by CreateSpace; Available at: Apple iBooks:; Amazon Kindle:; Barnes and Noble Nook:; Kobo:

Book Excerpt:
In the end, training to be the best actor you can be, creating your own work, getting in front of casting directors whenever possible through workshops and showcases, submitting yourself for work on and offline, getting great representation and working with them to expand your opportunities for mutual success, being knowledgeable about the business and casting process, giving as much as you can of yourself to other actors, and being awesome to, and interested in, the people that make it all happen day-in and day-out is the best way to maximize your chances of success, not only as a commercial actor but as a professional actor, period.

I hope that this information has been a helpful starting point in knowing what to do. Almost all of us move here from somewhere else with no good information as to how things actually work, and it can be so hap-hazard where you end up training and how you end up finding out the right information. It’s my hope that this insider look into the world of commercial acting and casting helps you sidestep the mistakes I and others naturally made when we started out. A better-informed and trained acting community will only make my life easier in the casting studio. In fact, this material is actually all a selfish effort for my own benefit. But hey, if good is achieved with it also, well then that’s extra karma for me.

As an L.A. actor himself, Shaan Sharma has a string of impressive acting credits on network TV shows such as “Scandal,” “Ground Floor,” “Growing Up Fisher,” “Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street” and “The Thundermans.” Shaan’s commercial acting credits include spots for FedEx, Best Buy and Capital One - - but it’s his experience as a Session Director for hundreds of commercial castings that have given him unique insight into what it takes to be a working actor. He is also an acting teacher with regular scene study on-camera acting classes for film and TV as well as commercial acting workshops. For more information, visit Mr. Sharma’s official website: and his book page at: He is also a columnist for Back Stage, an actor’s news source at:

Shaan is giving away one $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
• This giveaway begins November 3 and ends November 29.
• Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, December 1.
• Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



BOSTON, November 12 – Procrastination may be just the prescription for those seeking the hottest holiday deals, according to new findings today from ShopAdvisor, which today revealed December 18 as last year’s best day to snag low prices in-store and online.  The virtuousness of patience was further borne out by data showing last year’s post-Black Friday discounts reaching double digits, even for some of the most coveted brands, outpacing Black Friday’s reductions of just a percentage point or two for the 6,000 items ShopAdvisor tracked in-store and online.

Surprisingly, 42 percent of the products tracked by ShopAdvisor were actually priced higher on Black Friday than in the four weeks leading up to it.  And as for luxury goods deals, the wait was endless, as ShopAdvisor found highest-end merchandize having gone undiscounted from November through January.

ShopAdvisor analyzed the 2013 lowest available prices for 6,000 products across all major categories that its app and website users were actively shopping for.  The pricing data came from 16,000 real-time data feeds from individual retailers and affiliates, including the nation’s big box, department store and online retail leaders.  

Among other noteworthy ShopAdvisor findings:

·         The average discount was 17.5 percent on December 18 versus less than 5 percent on Black Friday
·         Discounts were 30 percent deeper weekdays than on weekends from after Black Friday through the holiday shopping period

·         While discounts continued from December 26 through New Year’s Day, the deals were not as strong as those offered on December 18

Longer Waits, Better Deals: The New Norm?

ShopAdvisor’s unmasking of December 18 as last year’s best holiday deal day in-store and online stands in marked contrast to 2012, when December 1 reigned supreme, per similar company data.  “The question becomes, are retailers planning to backload deals again this year?  Now is too early to tell, but the perception of a stronger economy may embolden them to behave that way,” said Scott Cooper, CEO, ShopAdvisor.  “What is now clear, if it wasn’t already, is that Black Friday is more about sport than savings – consumers competing for real deals on just a handful of limited quantity doorbusters, not widespread season’s-best pricing.”

Cooper said aggregated data from ShopAdvisor users actively seeking discounts on desired products this holiday season show electronics again topping lists. The top five most watched categories as of this week: (1) TVs, tablets and computers; (2) health and beauty; (3) appliances; (4) cameras; (5) video games.

About ShopAdvisor

ShopAdvisor lets consumers shop smarter in-store and online by providing up-to-date pricing and retailer availability for over 200 million products.  Shoppers can save items they’re interested in to a Watch List and be alerted when the time to buy is right, saving time and money, and link to the lowest price merchant to buy instantly. ShopAdvisor also works with magazines including Cosmopolitan, House Beautiful, Cooking Light and Real Simple to allow shoppers to shop directly for the products and gift ideas featured in the magazine. 

Consumers can download the ShopAdvisor mobile app for their iOS or Android device, or go to The app and web site are free. ShopAdvisor has been recognized as one of the best 100 Android apps by PC Magazine and an “App Store Rewind Best Utility App” for the iPhone.
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For additional data and insights, contact Caitlin Melnick,, 617-585-5775, or Jenny Krupski,, 617-585-5762.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Product Review: Hamilton Beach® 24791 Modern Chrome 4-Slice Toaster

I purchased this Hamilton Beach® 24791 Modern Chrome 4-Slice Toaster back in September from Amazon. We had a toaster oven that took up a ton of space and worked slowly. This unit's sleek design takes up much less space and it looks great.

You can toast and defrost with this unit, and it also has a bagel setting. This toaster works quickly and I was thrilled to have some counter space back. My only issue with this unit is the uneven toasting of the bread. If I get one side golden brown, the other is still mostly white. My only option is to reduce the toasting time and turn the bread over and re-toast it if I want it done right. Who has time for that?

Overall I'm happy with this toaster. I just wish it toasted more evenly.

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.