Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to the Books GIVEAWAY HOP!

This hop, organized by Buried in Books and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, features over 200 (!) participating blogs offering book-related giveaways! We're all linked up together so you can hop easily from one giveaway to another; see the full list here: Back to the Books Giveaway Hop.

Winner here at BWATE? gets a Signed Copy of either:
 "Solid" (Solid Series Book #1) or "Settling" (Solid #2)

To enter to win, just follow this blog and leave a comment/question,
along with a way to contact you.

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 Follow on Twitter
+1 Like Solid Series on Facebook 
+1 Add series to your to-read list on Goodreads

Giveaway runs from Sept. 1st to Sept. 7th; last day to enter is Friday, Sept. 7th.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

FOODFIC: Seriously...I'm Kidding - Ellen DeGeneres

You know how people ask, If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

Well, I’d pick Ellen Degeneres every day of the week and 5 times on Sunday (and not just because she’s from my hearttown and New Orleanians can put together a Sunday dinner like nobody’s business).

Anyway, as Ellen points out in her book, it’s polite to send a thank-you note to the host after a dinner party. Even though we haven’t actually had our dinner party yet, I’m going to practice by thanking her for sharing her thoughts in this book. (And perhaps precipitate an invitation if she happens to read my blog – stranger things have happened ;)

Dear Ellen,

Thank you for explaining to readers how much thought goes into choosing a book title; it is indeed a SOLID skill.

Thank you for understanding that  ideas come whenever they feel like it and that we must keep a pen and paper on us at all times just in case.

Thank you for reminding me to DVR I Survived.

Thank you for all of the science lessons, from the fundamental every action has a reaction to little endorphin Annie. Good stuff. 

Thank you for giving me a tie-in to my blog by acknowledging that there is a difference between yams and sweet potatoes. Of course, you could’ve actually told me what the difference is…oh, wait! Were you giving me the gift of letting me find the answer on my own? I get it now. Thanks for that, too.

Thank you for instructing every reader to hug yourself, enjoy every day, take risks, and stretch your mind.

Thank you for showing me how to turn YouTube into a workout.

Thank you for telling us if you and Portia are going to have children – yes, I’m one of the millions of people wanting to know.

Thank you for agreeing that a glass of wine counts as a serving of fruit.

Thank you for calling out the person who coined the term “fashionably late” since there’s nothing fashionable about it. Like culottes. 

Thank you for including me in your dream about Colonel Sanders, who is, like you, an American treasure.

And, in the spirit of saving the best for last, like dessert, thank you for sharing your life, laugh, and light with all of us. :)

A huge fan


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Toastworthy Teens - Ted Marantz

Ted Marantz, K-9 Vest Provider

Did you know that most U.S. police agencies – from federal all the way down to local – use K-9 officers? Did you also know that many of those canine heroes work without the same protective equipment as their human partners? 

Well, Ted Marantz only had to hear about one such vulnerable animal – Cooper, a 5-year-old German shepherd serving Stamford – to take action. The Connecticut teen raised over $1,000 through family, friends, and his community’s little league organization to purchase a bulletproof vest for Cooper. 

It’s hard to tell who’s the most grateful – handler Seth O’Brien, who says “this may save his life;” Assistant Chief Jon Fontneau who finds Ted’s gift “enormous,” or Cooper himself. :)

Want to be a hero to heroes, like Ted?

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Stephanie Lawton, Author of WANT

Anyone who’s ever been to the Deep South knows food is a huge part of the culture and what sets it apart from the rest of the United States. There are things found here that you only see on bizarre food TV shows (hello, alligator), but other favorites like mac and cheese are staples across the country.

In Want, seventeen-year-old Julianne is a piano prodigy in Mobile, Alabama, which is located on Mobile Bay near the Gulf of Mexico. Although it’s about as Deep South as you can get, it has more in common with other nearby coastal cities like New Orleans and Pensacola, Florida. There’s a ton of seafood, especially shrimp and oysters, despite the recent catastrophic oil spill. 

The first reference to food happens while Juli and her college-age brother  R.J. are having dinner with their uber-weight-conscious mother. R.J. loves to tease Juli, so she responds by throwing a Brussels sprout at him. Several weeks later after Juli and R.J. have had a heart-to-heart, they enter the kitchen just as their mother pulls a lasagna out of the oven. Sad thing is, only R.J. will get to really enjoy it.

We never see Juli’s mother eat much more than a crouton or two, but then things begin to heat up. Juli catches a ride home with her twenty-seven-year-old piano instructor after his performance with the Mobile Symphony. He’s still riding a performance high, so he suggests they stop for ice cream. He licks his way through three scoops of buttered pecan ice cream, but Juli sticks with a milkshake because licking a cone in front of him seems a bit too … intimate. *wink*

Juli’s mother has passed on her unhealthy eating practices, so Juli often goes stretches without eating anything substantial. Enter Dave—Isaac’s friend from college and all-around good guy. He invites Juli to a bonfire on the beach and makes sure she eats her fill: hot dogs, baked beans and corn on the cob, universal picnic food. He also supervises while she tries her first beer. 

Juli’s father makes her favorite—fried green tomatoes, which are bar far my favorite Southern food, too, especially when topped with crawfish sauce. Later he takes her to a local Creole place known for its gumbo, a kind of seafood stew that also has the holy trinity of Creole cuisine: celery, onion and bell peppers. Simmered at least three hours, it’s usually served over white rice.

After Juli falls ill, her father makes her other favorite meal, grilled cheese and tomato soup. I don’t know of any better comfort food!

A journey out of the Deep South gives Juli her first taste of more ethnic cuisine. She orders ghormeh sazbi with basmati rice. It’s an herb stew with greens and beans, both of which are also common in the South, though the seasonings are very different. It also contains beef or lamb. Her companion orders sea bass with saffron. 

As the major crisis of the book unfolds, the cuisine accordingly takes a major hit: take-out, donuts, and finally, hospital-grade Jell-O.  Ew. But at least Juli gets to see her mother getting better:
The first thing I notice is how normal she looks. Her face is fuller, her hair is thicker and there aren’t any bruises or scrapes on her knuckles. When she says hello, her breath isn’t putrid. Her eyes tear up, and I look away.

 Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Stephanie!

 You can find Stephanie at:                  Twitter @Steph_Lawton
       Facebook Fan Page                               Goodreads                           

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Toastworthy Teens - Braeleigh Apley

Braeleigh Apley, Princess and Pirate Maker

Every little girl wants to be a princess, and no one knows this better than 17-year-old Braeleigh Apley. In fact, the young entrepreneur actually started running a princess “camp” out of her parents’ home when she was just 9 years old. 

And, in true princess fashion, Braeleigh took her camp’s profits, rounded up 20 more teen volunteers, and organized a “Princess and Pirate Day” for the young patients of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The Michigan teen, who believes “it is important that we never lose touch with the imaginative side of (our) lives,” made sure that even the room-confined kids could enjoy the costumes, crafts, and goodie bags that made her event so magical.

Braeleigh has since been recognized for her work by the Prudential Spirit of Community, and you can *meet* her on the awards page:

 Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Friday, August 17, 2012

FOODFIC: Gideon's Sword - Preston & Child

There’s nothing I love more than a supporting role that steals the show, whether it’s in movies, on TV, or in books…heck, my favorite part of Taylor Swift’s last L.A. concert was when Ellen DeGeneres popped by.

But back to Gideon Crew. Or, rather, his friend Tom O’Brien, whom Gideon calls a gentleman of singular and diverse endowments. These skills include (but surely aren’t limited to) deciphering numeric codes, recovering deleted data from cell phones, and reading and writing Mandarin.
Of course, Gideon himself is doing all of the dangerous work on this assignment: retrieving plans for a secret weapon that were smuggled into the U.S. from Hong Kong by a man Gideon saw run down and killed as soon as he left the airport. Oh, and he also has to outwit an assassin who’s on the same mission.

Besides having James Bond-esque intelligence, strength, and bravado, Gideon also has a mysterious past as an art thief, and is cute enough that a hooker he hires for cover wants to stay with him and forget about the money…and Gideon has a very Pretty Woman-ish soft spot for her. Brains, looks, charm – he’s got it all.

But that Tom O’Brien…well, he’s cantankerous when woken before noon, the clothes he scrounges up from his floor include a t-shirt featuring a death metal band called Cannibal Corpse, and he’s got a cat and a studio apartment where the Pullman kitchen is buried beneath moldy dishes. Yet, somehow – maybe it’s the Irish surname – I can ignore all of that and just picture him as a young Colin Farrell. (Did I mention that I mentally cast this story for film as I read it?)

What really seals the deal for me is when O’Brien makes himself a sandwich of peanut butter, sliced bananas, and mini-marshmallows. Okay, he almost lost me with that last almost-too-sweet ingredient, but he held on by topping his creation with sliced deli pickle. I don’t know about you, but that salty-sweet-sweet-salty combination sounds terrific to me. 

Gideon, on the other hand, eats things that hold no appeal for my palate: raw oysters, poached eggs, toast with marmalade. Yuck.
So it’s crystal clear who’s the edgier, sexier man in the story…until O’Brien drops his culinary masterpiece on the floor, then reassembles it, picking cat hairs off the pickles.

Sorry, I don’t think even Colin Farrell could get away with that. ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Toastworthy Teens - Grant Wholey

  Grant Wholey, Tourette Syndrome Youth Ambassador

Grant Wholey is the kind of big brother I’ve always wished I had. When the 17-year-old recognized his 11-year-old brother was reaching an age that he himself particularly struggled with, Grant decided to do what he could to make life easier for Kevin. 

You see, both boys have Tourette Syndrome (TS), meaning they have to deal with not only multiple uncontrollable verbal and physical tics, but also the stares and criticisms of people who don’t understand their plight. Grant’s tics were so severe in middle school that he found himself unable to even read, write, or do homework, and he was concerned his brother would run into similar hurdles. So Grant, who also wants to also “help his brother in a greater way by helping to stop bullying and break myths surrounding TS,” joined the Tourette Syndrome Youth Ambassador program, where he will be “equipped with resources and tools to spread education on the disorder in schools and other community groups.” (As part of the program, he will also speak to Congress as an advocate for TS research.)

I think Kevin, the Tourette community, and our society as a whole are lucky to have guys like Grant!

To educate yourself about Tourette Syndrome, visit:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Please Welcome Jillian McKee, Blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Today we're taking a break from the usual FoodFic musings to hear from Jillian McKee,
a blogger who saw the Toastworthy Teen post highlighting cancer survivor Caitlyn Mortus
and asked if she could share some valuable information on food and health.
I was of course happy to have her pull up a seat at the BWATE? table. :) 

*          *          *          *          * 

Discover How to Incorporate More Nutrition into a Cancer Patient’s Diet

Numerous medical studies and research results have proven that the majority of cancer patients can benefit greatly when they maintain a diet that is loaded with fruits and vegetables. While nearly anyone can benefit from consuming wholesome and healthy foods in place of heavier, starchier, junk foods, cancer patients stand to benefit dramatically through potentially increased energy levels, more stable mood swings, and physical strength. As well as a diet increasing energy and giving people more stamina and endurance, certain healthy foods can also act as immune soldiers in the fight for better health.

People who have been affected by mesothelioma cancer, or other types of cancer, can begin taking an assertive stand and battling the disease whole-heartedly by making a commitment to increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into their diet.  Certain dairy products such as cheese and Greek yogurt are also ideal foods to consume to help the body gain adequate amounts of protein and energy.  Using creative meal-planning techniques and innovative and delicious recipes using nutritious ingredients can make eating meals not only enjoyable for cancer patients but healthy as well.

In one article, experts spoke about how cancer patients are at risk of experiencing an imbalance in electrolytes. Electrolytes are needed to promote healthy functioning of the heart and balanced chemistry in the blood. Many cancer treatments can cause a person to have an imbalance of electrolytes. However, eating foods that are high in potassium and calcium and consuming a lot of water can help to restore the balance and promote better overall health. Better overall health in cancer patients leads to stronger bodies that are more apt to cope with the rigorous sessions of cancer treatments.

Cheese and vegetable quiches, cold vegetable snack trays, vegetable kabobs that are roasted in the oven, fruit smoothies made with natural fruit that does not have additives and yogurt are all healthy meal and snack options that cancer patients can consume to get them back on a healthier eating lifestyle.  Spinach tortillas loaded with fresh spinach, lettuce, red bell peppers, black olives, and diced fresh broccoli is another satisfying and delicious meal.  Simply drizzle on a light coating of flavored olive oil and add a layer of a favorite cheese to make this meal even more delicious and appealing.

When people who have cancer invest in eating healthier foods and make a commitment to stay away from junk foods and foods that are loaded in fat and are heavy in starches, they will be able to control their weight management better and will stand a great chance of improving heart health, gaining more energy, and having an overall higher quality of life. Preparing healthy meals in advance and sticking them in the freezer or refrigerator is a great way to have nutritious meals on hand at all times.

Thanks for sharing your food for thought, Jillian! 

 You can find Jillian at The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog,
as well as on  Facebook  and  Twitter (@jillianmckee)

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Toastworthy Teens - Karina Gadea

Karina Gadea, Operation Smile

Most people are aware of the Operation Smile organization and its mission to provide corrective surgeries for kids with facial deformities, as well as give presentations on relevant health topics, in underprivileged countries. 

But what you may not know (I didn’t) is that many teens also serve on these goodwill missions. Teens like Karina Gadea, who was selected from her high school’s Operation Smile club to bring smiles and knowledge to the kids of Kenya. 

Karina’s team, in which her role was to give “interactive presentations on topics including burn care and prevention, nutrition, dental care and oral rehydration,” performed 128 surgeries on their 12-day trip!

See the results of Karina’s and other Operation Smiles here:

Do you know a toast-worthy teen you’d like to see featured here at BWATE? 
Comment below with your email address so we can get a post together!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

FOODFIC: Jaws - Peter Benchley

Yes, I had to read Jaws because I’m one of the gazillion people whose lives were ruined by the movie. My Grandma had cable when my parents didn’t, so her inability to say no combined with her complete disinterest in what was on the screen allowed for my much-too-young viewing of the horror classic with my cousin…and created an irrational fear that for years prevented me from being able to pee during the night because I was scared sharks could be circling in the “sea” between my bed and the bathroom. Perhaps a bit TMI? Oh, well; it was traumatic and over-sharing is part of my self-prescribed therapy, along with my annual round-the-clock viewing of Shark Week on Discovery (starting Sunday, August 12th - don't forget to set your DVR). Twisted, yes; resistable, no. Hey, even Mr. Benchley himself regretted the damage his book caused and spent the rest of his life working with conservationists in defense of sharks, but Jaws is an un-unringable bell if ever I heard one.

But let’s get back to the novel, which actually didn’t give the shark (or “fish” as he’s referred to in the text) all that much page time. Now, my edition said right on the cover that many storylines were dropped or glossed over for the movie, but I was still surprised by all of the character plots (and reading them made me realize that I couldn’t really remember the movie, so then I had to go watch that again, too, to see what made the final cut!).

Also interesting were the tons of food mentions (beyond what the shark was eating, which you already know). At one point in the story there’s a dinner party and one of the guests for some reason thinks it’s okay to tell the hostess’s cop husband how much she likes G & G s – grass and gazpacho. I’m not a big fan of gazpacho (although I haven’t had it in a long time, so maybe I should give it another shot?), but, regardless, I don’t see how sprinkling pot on it would do anything for you. So I had to look it up, but then the only reference I found was to this book, so…? Which, I have to admit, is kind of my reaction to everything 70s-related: Um, what? Frankly, it’s an era that I just don’t get.

Anyway, my point is (like Ellen, I do have one) that I started off reading one little book, which turned into my having to watch a movie, and then do internet research – in other words, a lot of appetite-building work! And, believe me, when I was done, I didn’t need that wait-20-minutes-after-you-eat rule to stay out of the water. ;)