Month: September 2015

Roma Underground

Italy Book Tours

In the first book in the Roma Series, Roma Underground, we are introduced to savvy Alabaster Black who is currently in hiding in Rome.

Roma UndergroundAbout Roma Underground

Savvy forensic accountant Alabaster Black is hiding in Rome from her former employer, covert U.S. organization “Rendition.” While there under an assumed name she meets Dante, an investigator, erstwhile explorer and member of the Roma Underground, a band of amateur archaeologists who map the city beneath Rome. With Italian artifacts disappearing at an alarming rate, Alabaster and Dante search for answers and create a trap for the thieves. Through a mysterious online contact Alabaster learns she is being followed, and with her safety at risk she is forced to rethink her chosen alliances and discover hidden truths about herself.

My Thoughts

Suspense, adventure, history and a little bit of romance. Roma Underground has all of this and more. Alabaster is an incredible female character in this story. I love how strong she is both physically and mentally. The work she does is incredible in this story! It gives female readers a great character to look up to and connect with.

The plot line is fantastic and will leave you not wanting to put it down (which is literally what I did!). I loved my time in Rome so it was pretty neat to get to read about it from this perspective from a woman in hiding who is falling in love with the Roman lifestyle and culture. How they trick the thieves in this story is mind-blowing.

Roma Underground is a fantastic start to this series – I can’t wait to see what happens to Alabaster and where the ending in this book will take her.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Gabriel Valjan lives in New England, but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, Back in the Day. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals and online magazines.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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How We Pamper Our Fur Baby at PetSmart

How We Pamper Our Toopy with Petsmart

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

It has been said that man’s best friend is his dog. For us, this statement could not be any more true.

How We Pamper Our Toopy

We first brought home, Toopy a bichon shih tzu, when our eldest was two years old. We had moved into our first townhouse and we were finding it hard to fall pregnant again. We wanted a friend not only for our son but us too! I still remember the first night we brought Toopy home – she was so tiny and would literally hang onto our ankles as she was too scared to be on her own. I spent the first three nights laying downstairs with her sleeping on my head to help soothe her and stop her crying.

How We Pamper Our Toopy with Petsmart

Almost eight years later and I can’t imagine a day without our Toopy  (who has been affectionately nicknamed Miss Toopelina). Toopy has quite the personality (some days I am surprised she wasn’t born a cat as she loves to sit on the top part of the couches and don’t even mention walks, she hates them!).

She has also become the best of friends with both of our boys. She is so much more than a pet, she acts as though they are her own children with how protective she is. When our youngest was a baby, she would sit under his chair making sure no one was getting too close to him or upsetting him, so cute right?!.

How We Pamper Our Toopy at Petsmart

This may come as no surprise to other pet owners,  but we love to spoil our Toopy. The best place to do this? PetSmart. It is honestly like dog paradise.

How We Pamper Our Toopy at PetSmart

Toopy knows exactly where we are the minute we drive in the PetSmart parking lot and she can start sniffing around. From the parking lot to the front door, Toopy’s senses are alive as she smells other animals, sees them coming in and all the neat toys at the front.

PetSmart has everything we have ever needed for Toopy, from toys to beds to food to grooming. It is our all in one store for shopping and the bonus is that Toopy can come in and help ‘pick’ her toys. On our last visit, Toopy even made a friend with a rescue dog that was the same breed as her! I was able to talk with the owner about their similar skin conditions. Both of our dogs had developed skin irritations later in life which has involved rounds of steroids injections, fungal as well as antibiotics and ointments. It was pretty awesome to be able to talk to another pet parent about our concerns and to know that we were not alone.

How We Pamper Our Fur Baby at PetSmart

Toopy left PetSmart with a brand new bed (because of her skin condition her bed needs to be changed almost monthly) and two new toys. The boys convinced me that these were the two best toys for her because in the store she came running when they squeaked!

How We Pamper Our Toopy at PetSmart

And clearly, Toopy couldn’t wait to get them in her new bed – she didn’t even wait for me to take the tags of her bed before she claimed it as her own!

How We Pamper Our Toopy at PetSmart

We love to spoil and pamper our Toopy because honestly she deserves it. She is always the most nurturing member in our home, senses our moods and always tries to make us feel better. None of us could even begin to imagine life without her.

Where do you take your fur baby to spoil them and purchase items for their everyday needs?

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Declutter Your Home and Earn Money with VarageSale

Have you made purchases that you almost immediately regret? Like the twentieth sleeper for your child that they will never wear? Maybe that deep fryer that seemed like a good purchase at the time but you never actually deep fry anything (I still don’t know why we bought it!)?

I know as a family we have done this too many times. These purchases always seem like a must have in the moment but then they sit in a closet, garage or basement for months and years. Garage sales and classified ads make me nervous (nor do I have the time to commit myself to this), and I am too uncomfortable to post or sell in the Mom groups on Facebook.

Declutter and Earn Money with VarageSale

VarageSale is an online community where you can safely buy or sell items and connect with locals in your community. VarageSale was founded in 2012 and currently has communities in 42 states in the US, Canada and world-wide. They are continuing to expand in Canada and have just recently included a community in Hamilton. VarageSale is completely free to use (win-win!) as well as having a mobile app for iOS, Android and Kindle. This is perfect for so many of us who do the majority of our work on our smart phones – I live and work on my phone so for me, an app like this saves time and increases efficiency. How to Declutter Your Home with VarageSale VarageSale offers:

  • local community groups, with a new group in Hamilton
  • easy labelling that lets users know if an item is for sale, pending or sold
  • recommend sellers and follow their feeds to see what they are currently selling
  • easy search options with multiple categories to explore
  • a safe environment to sell items within your own community

How to Declutter Your Home and Earn Money with VarageSale

Setting up an account is simple and free, you can set up your account on VarageSale. Once you have a live account, you can start uploading photos and items to sell, search other users and browse through your notifications.

This is the perfect way for busy families to safely sell unused items in their community while earning extra money that can go back into their family budget or for extra curricular activities (for us – soccer!). Which I know so many of us would appreciate the extra boost in their bank account.

Still on the fence? Watch this quick video:

How do you declutter your home? Have you set up a VarageSale account?

Make sure you follow VarageSale online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Inspector Dewey

iRead Book Tours

Get ready to meet Dewey, Inspector Dewey.

Inspector Dewey

About Inspector Dewey

My name is Dewey–Inspector Dewey.

I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but miserable mullet would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

My Thoughts

I love children’s books, I love the images, the flow and story. Inspector Dewey is no exception. From the cover alone, you can tell that this will be a book to treasure.

Our favourite reading time is just before bed time, snuggled up on the couch or under the covers in bed. Inspector Dewey has illustrations that are warm and inviting and perfect for bedtime reading. The illustrations were adorable and melt your heart. Those faces on them – too cute!

The story itself flows very nicely and is a heart warming story of how three little cats and their human, Anna, save the day and town. The cats are full of love, daring and adventure. which completes this wonderful story. This reminds every little reader, that regardless of size we can do and accomplish anything we put our minds to.

**Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that the animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system.**

Isn’t that incredible?

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.

Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high-speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

Kristen’s site for her work “Inspector Dewey” will be premiering on May 31st, 2015. In addition, you can read more about Kristen’s work at, also live on May 31st.

The Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Healthy Southwest Macaroni and Cheese #GetNudged

Southwest Mac n Cheese #GetNudged

Fall is the perfect time of year to enjoy a nice, warm bowl of macaroni and cheese. I know my two boys are HUGE fans of all that cheesy goodness. As a family we like to add a little bit of variety to our bowl of macaroni and cheese (keeps meal time exciting!).

Nudge Foods Macaroni and Cheese

The Nudge macaroni and cheese product line has quickly become a favourite in our home. The four different types of macaroni and cheese are all:

  • made with organic ingredients
  • made with grass-fed dairy
  • peanut free
  • non GMO ingredients
  • no artificial colours, preservatives or flavours
  • a source of Omega 3 fatty acids (from the grass-fed dairy and flax pasta)

Awesome right?

Southwest Mac N Cheese #GetNudged

To spice it up a little, try a spin on one of my favourite recipes, Southwest macaroni and cheese.


  • one box of Nudge macaroni and cheese
  • 2 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 5 tbsp of milk
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • one green pepper
  • one cup of black beans (drained and washed)
  • one cup of diced tomatoes (I like to use fresh but you can also used canned)
  • three garlic cloves

Southwest Mac n Cheese #GetNudged


Prepare the box of Nudge macaroni and cheese as directed and set aside.

In a frying pan, warm up the coconut oil and add in the green peppers and garlic gloves. Allow them to cook until softened and golden.

Add in the black beans and cook for one to two minutes.

Add in the cup of diced tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are softened. On a medium setting on our stove this took just under five minutes. You can use salt or pepper if desired to taste.

Mix in the tomatoes, black beans and green peppers with the macaroni and cheese.

Southwest Mac n Cheese #GetNudged

Enjoy your southwest macaroni and cheese! Do you have a favourite macaroni and cheese recipe?

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product free of charge. All opinions expressed are my own.

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