Book Review: Please Excuse My Daughter by Julie Klam

Allow me to preface this review by stating the fact that typically, I enjoy memoirs. Memoirs, in my opinion, mark the struggles, triumphs, courage and stamina of a person. They signify a life that has truly been lived and allow a person to share their lives with others who may benefit from reading their story.

Julie Klam was born and raised in a Jewish family where her mother and many other Jewish wives and women in general believed that women did not work. Instead, they married rich men, spent their husband’s money on luxuries that purely benefit the way they look and eat and nothing else and have a few children before they are expected to get a job and contribute to their families. Julie was not only raised in this lifestyle, she inhabited this lifestyle and truly made it her own.

Her mother frequently took her out of school so she could go shopping and wear the best clothes out of all of the girls she went to school with because she was raised thinking that that was the important part of life–The best clothes, the best hair, the best nails and so on. Because of her upbringing, Julie did not receive the education that she deserved as a young child growing up.

As every adult knows, there comes a time when you need to become an adult; to grow up and take responsibility for your life and eventually, for your family. Sadly, Julie Klam never did break away from the way she was raised and instead, formed a lifestyle around fear and laziness.

On the back cover of Julie Klam’s memoir, Please Excuse My Daughter, you will see a laundry list of pseudo-accomplishments. She had attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where it was a requirement of hers to watch a countless number of movies. She was an intern at Late Night with David Letterman, she landed her first “real” job at VH1 on the popular music video show, Pop Up Video, where she met and later married the show’s producer, Paul Leo. It was for Pop Up Video that she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Writing; however, as good as “Emmy Nominated Writer” looks by your name, she simply received that nomination in conjunction with the rest of the writing staff of the show. Since then, she was also published in O: The Oprah Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Rolling Stone, although you learn in her book that her close friend works for Rolling Stone, so it is obvious to see how she landed that gig.

Julie Klam’s life has been a series of excuses. Excuses as to why she had never had a real job that she could stick with and not because she simply enjoys the life of freelancing, but because she is simply incapable of being an adult. Throughout her memoir, where at 257 pages, was 256 pages too long, Julie whines, complains and feels sorry for herself for not being able to highlight her hair or go to Saks; she is truly her mother’s daughter.

Julie Klam simply wrote an entire memoir based upon what most “mommy bloggers” are writing about now, yet most mommy bloggers are far more entertaining and don’t lose their reader after a few posts. As a matter of a fact, Heather Armstrong of Dooce did write a book and from what I have been hearing, it’s a hell of a lot more interesting to a broader range of people than what the reviews of Please Excuse My Daughter are receiving across the board.

While Please Excuse My Daughter is written very well and some of the times is absolutely hilarious, Julie Klam’s memoir is long, dry and sticks to your throat as you try to swallow it. In my (most humble) opinion, I believe that the next time Julie Klam finds herself in another slump and needs money desperately, instead of writing a memoir (because this one surely is not going to make her the millions she lies awake dreaming of at night) she should opt for children’s books. She has a wonderful sense of humor and a talent for writing humor and should apply her talents to something not so involved; something that will not let her drag out a story and pretend it is epic when it simply falls flat.

Taken from Julie’s own blog, in a post written about Goodreads, a site where people are able to keep track of the books they want to read, have read and write reviews, you can tell what a self-assured woman Klam is when she responds to those who do not enjoy her book and agree with her that she is brilliant by saying, “…I’m thinking of leaving the Author Program, too, because I want to write nasty things to people who give my book low ratings and I don’t want them to know it’s me. (Like “Sorry, I didn’t write the book for half-wits.”) You know?”

Well Julie, who did you write this book for? If it was for yourself, then I suggest you stick to journaling your random thoughts and long monologues about why your life is so hard. If you wrote the book for well-read individuals looking for a book about someone’s life who has accomplished something and who actually has something to say, well I’m here to tell you that you’ve disappointed your ideal audience.

The Hopeful Haven Project

women's shelters When you think of homeless shelters, most people’s first thoughts leap to movies and what they’ve seen showcased on their television screens–Bland, cold, run down. Sadly, what people have seen for so many years on movies and television shows aren’t far from the truth in the least.

Terry Grahl visited a homeless shelter for women dealing with drug addictions and domestic violence, Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac, MI. The women who live at Grace Centers of Hope have already had some very traumatic and life-shattering experiences and this shelter provides these women with shelter for them and their children for up to one year. Because of the experiences these women have already had, shelters such as Grace Centers of Hope and so many others across the country are there to lend these women a hand, to assure these women that their lives are not over and to relieve these women of their pasts and teach them to look forward towards a hopeful and promising future. While the mission of these shelters is amazing, the interior most often resembles the emotional deterioration of the women themselves; which is exactly what Terry Grahl thought when she visited Grace Centers of Hope.

As soon as Terry had seen the prison-like beds that these women slept in, the walls and carpets that looked as if they were part of an abandoned building that fell prey to a handful of high school kids wanting a place to party, she knew she had found a project to dedicate her time and talent to. Terry believed that these women deserved so much more, especially considering that Grace Centers of Hope is the “in between” place for these women to start to get on their own two feet and start to make sense of their lives. How were they to make sense of their lives while living in a space that lacked to inspire.

Luckily, not only Terry felt this way, but so did the women who ran this shelter as well as the people who had donated money to be used to revamp the center as well as those who had donated various items such as ceiling fans, air conditioners, washers and dryers, baby cribs, curtains, beauty products, homemade art and so much more. The community surrounding Grace Centers of Hope came together with Terry, the women who run this shelter and the women who find themselves in a shelter that once reminded them of how lost they were, but can now remind them to always have hope, to not look upon themselves as victims and to provide the best life they possibly can to their own children. The women of Grace Centers of Hope can now feel inspired, motivated and hopeful and their surroundings can now uplift them and hopefully, they will never feel the sorrow, loneliness, or feel victimized in any way for the rest of their lives.

To see what Terry and the women of Grace Centers of Hope and the people of Pontiac, MI did to transform this space for the women who live there, click the images below and you can also visit Terry’s website, Terry’s Enchanted Cottage, where she has dedicated a page to The Hopeful Haven Project.

See before and after pictures of Terry’s work at Grace Centers of Hope below:

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Every American Deserves the Right to Marry

Million for Marriage America came one step closer to achieving equal rights for all people when California declared that refusing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people the right to marry was unconstitutional. Since this remarkable day in LGBT history, many couples have been married and have shared in the experience of vowing to love and to cherish each other in front of their friends and families and for the first time in California, their marriage will be legal in the eyes of the law.

With every day that we celebrate this victory for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered couples, anti-LGBT have been working to deny benefits to LGBT couples on both state and federal levels. In order to make sure that ignorance and hate doesn’t win this battle over true equality for all Americans, the Human Rights Campaign has set up a petition with the hope of getting over 1 million names from people who believe in marriage equality for everyone.

The petition states:

“I do support the right of every American to marry, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples. I believe that marriage and other civil rights protections are essential to making all families safer and more secure.

By signing this petition, I agree to support efforts to make marriage equality a reality in our country, and to oppose any attempts to discriminate against LGBT couples and individuals.”

With 988,902 signatures so far, HRC needs more people to stand up for marriage equality. Sign the petition here.

Billy Ray Cyrus Clears Up Some Controversy

Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus Just about everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past few months have heard about the Miley Cyrus controversy when it came to her photo shoot for the June issue of Vanity Fair, photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

Many people were outraged by the sexuality implied in Miley Cyrus’ famous picture of her wrapped in a sheet and her back bare. While many (including myself) see nothing wrong with the picture itself, the incident is still receiving mass attention and the masses want to know what her father, infamous Achey Breaky Billy Ray Cyrus, who co-stars with Miley on the hit Disney television show Hannah Montana, has to say about the picture and how it has been received.

On NBC’s Today show, Billy Ray was asked about the controversy involving his daughter and the pictures that had appeared in Vanity Fair. He says that while he wasn’t there at the time, but Miley’s publicist was and it seemed as if everyone was in control of the situation. Miley was not subjected to anything that the people speaking for her were not aware of and in my opinion, they changed their tunes as soon as the picture leaked and so many other people seemed to be offended by the images. Disney is, after all, a wholesome television channel for children and Miley Cyrus’ success has erupted and she has built a solid fan base of a great deal of young girls. After all, we don’t want Miley to end up like another Britney Spears case, do we?

Regarding the image of Miley in a black tank top that shows her midriff and in her father’s arms, Billy Ray says that that is simply “A daddy that loves his daughter a whole lot.” He also says that he and his daughter “got caught up in this adventure that we’ve gone through with this dream, and what we do for a living. We both love acting, we love making music and we love each other. I’m her dad and she’s my daughter, so if a daddy hasn’t hugged his daughter recently, I’d recommend he does.”

Babeland Knows Women

Babeland

When you think of sex toy shops, most often you’re probably thinking of shady-looking shops that cling to the shadows of highways. These shops are also the ones that have those creepy private booths in the back that most definitely cannot be entered without full hazmat gear.

The success of these types of shops is rooted in the same reason why everyone living outside of a significant city immediately think of sleazy shops instead of decorated storefronts. Their success can only be measured by the competition around them.

I live near a large city, but it is nowhere near what one would call bustling, or even moderately significant. There are three sex toy shops within 50 miles around me in any direction. Two are your standard, cliche shops directed predominantly at men, complete with jizz rooms in the back and a smarmy, unkempt man at the register. One tries desperately to appeal to women by making their main focus lingerie. Their store is filled with teddies, nightgowns, and negligees with a marked off back room for adults only. I scoped out their stock once, and it was simply an array of penis novelty items for bachelorette parties, jelly dildos, and egg vibrators. It made me sad.

Coming from this kind of background in sex toy shops, I was more than ready to discover Babeland when I did.

Founded by women for women, Babeland, and their “sex toys for a passionate world,” are dedicated to creating fun, friendly spaces that aren’t intimidating and, more importantly, aren’t filled with the semen of the guy who just held the door open for you on your way in. They actively celebrate the libido and treat sex as something to enjoy and have fun with, instead of feeling ashamed of it.

Babeland is celebrating the launch of its fifth store nationwide, located in Brooklyn, New York. The store is positioned in between a maternity store called Bump and an organic restaurant that sells an herbal infusion to boost libido, really speaking volumes of how approachable, unassuming, and safe their stores are to visit and shop. Store locations also have regular events scheduled for seminars on sexuality, workshops, and even parties.

Check out Babeland.com for a great selection of sex toys, educational books, erotica, DVDs, and more. You can also expect product reviews in the future of some of the products and accessories on sale at Babeland, so look out for that!

Emerita Knows Women’s Skin Care

I have spent the last few years of my life fighting with my fickle skin. The slightest things can make my skin turn from the pure complexion I had all through my adolescence into a horrifying Halloween mask-like state that leaves me adopting an “Oh well, I’m just not leaving the house–Ever, if need be!” philosophy. I have tried a downright impressive amount of over-the-counter skin care products and even some infomercial “miracle” collections that left my face incredibly dry and did not help clear acne, but aided in the process of making more! Sadly, me and my complexion had given up, especially since most of the skin care products I had tried made my complexion far worse than it was when I had started using them.

After giving up on skin care products that seemed to work for whoever this company was testing to prove their product worked, as well as for the models and actresses who already had perfect complexions to begin with, my skin was in an absolutely horrific state. My acne stayed, my skin was incredibly dry and it felt as if my face itself just was not fitting into my skin and I had also developed a problem with blackheads that never wanted to go away, no matter what face scrub I massaged into my face. Then it hit me; these companies were interested in one thing–Money. Most companies will say and do anything to pull one over on consumers and as long as they are making their millions, they really don’t care about women at all or if their product had even helped someone.

I recently had the opportunity to give skin care another go–With Emerita. Emerita is a woman-owned business, which of course gets a thumbs up in my book. I am all about supporting any business owned and run by women, especially since most products made for women are made by men, and obviously, men know very little about how women work. Emerita started as a family business and has been helping women over 40 with their extensive line of personal health and beauty products since the 1970s. While Emerita may target women over 40, they are not only for women of that age group since they helped the complexion of a 21 year old woman and most likely many other younger women who refused to accept that there were no skin care products that would work for them.

Emerita microdermabrasion face scrub The Emerita microdermabrasion face scrub is made with all organic and botanical ingredients. It exfoliates your skin, leaving it the smoothest my face has ever been. It is a smooth exfoliate unlike any other I had tried before; it doesn’t hurt when massaged into your skin and it leaves your skin feeling warm and refreshed. The scrub is unscented and contains no artificial colorings, which is great because what most companies don’t realize is that it doesn’t take a fruity smell and a pretty color to make women continue to buy their products, it takes the product to actually work–And Emerita does!

Emerita samples If you are interested in Emerita, but don’t want to spend your money on products that you don’t know for sure will work for you, they also offer two different sample packages of five different skin care products for just $2.00 and they also ship for free!

I have personally found that the balancing toner used after the microdermabrasion scrub and combined with the night cream works famously. It works so great, in fact, that I saw results with using their skin care products in just a 24-hour period, which if you’ve used most other products, you know is astounding!

I would most definitely tell any women looking to clear their complexion and be left with a warm, glowing and refreshed face to check out the products that Emerita offers; they are great quality and above all else, they work.

Never Lose Another Magazine Article Again

Scanalog I used to be a big magazine junkie. I used to work at Borders Books & Music and would find myself constantly grabbing magazines, buying the ones that looked interesting through my extensive task of putting all the magazines people took off the racks and left wherever they felt like it at the end of the day and for the entire time I worked there, I just found more and more magazines that I had to read. The only problem with having so many magazines with so many fabulous articles that I just had to read was that I wound up with a stack of magazines and any time that I had thought back to the articles that I wanted to re-read or needed for research for an article, I had to sift through several different issues of several magazines. Another problem I had continuously ran into was the fact that my stack of magazines were starting to fall apart after a while and in some cases, the articles I had been cherishing in those magazines, were also starting to fall apart.

Apparently quite a few other people were running into these same problems when it came to the magazines they love and because of the flimsiness of magazines and the impossible task of keeping them all cataloged and in good shape, Scanalog was born.

Scanalog is a magazine cataloging system that runs on your computer. The process is extremely simple and if you are a magazine lover, you are going to wonder what you did without it. The program is beautiful, first of all, its interface is self-explanatory and so easy that someone who knows very little about computers to begin with will be able to use it hassle-free. By simply scanning your magazine articles and cataloging them using the Scanalog program, you will have every magazine article that you had been saving whole magazines for at your fingertips. You will never find yourself searching through the stack of magazines that are taking over your book shelf or desk or having to say in the middle of a conversation “I remember reading an article about that in a magazine, but I can’t show it to you because I completely forget where I put that magazine.”

The system comes with 11 master categories as well as stickers for each category that you can use to organize your magazine articles before you scan them. Scanalog also supports retrieving your articles from your hard drive or digital camera. At the present moment, Scanalog covers a wide range of women’s interests such as parenting, home decoration, gardening and traveling, but since Scanalog has been so widely accepted, they are currently working on other systems tailor made for those with different interests.

Scanalog is not only a lifesaver when it comes to all the magazines you may have laying around, but it’s a fun project finding all the articles you have saved, scanning and cataloging them. It would also make a great gift for anyone you know who buys and saves magazines or other media sources.

To order your own Scanalog, visit the website or call 1-866-849-SCAN for more information.

Book Review: All About Vee by C. Leigh Purtill

All About Vee Veronica May is a pretty standard teenager. At eighteen years old, she is bubbly, caring and has a few great friends known as ‘The Vees,’ named simply after the first letter in all of their first names. She is a confident actress, star of her school and city theater in her hometown of Chester, Arizona and she is absolutely gorgeous–All 217 pounds of her.

While Veronica loves her life in Chester, she loves the spotlight even more and craves the success that as a big city actor, she knows she could achieve.

Once her father, a widower librarian, decides to finally marry his girlfriend of ten years and the city theater casting a play in which there are no female lead roles, Veronica feels as if she is being replaced not only in her household, but in her whole city. With her father’s reluctance to talk to Veronica about her deceased mother and provide his child with any closure, she decides to make her dream of being a successful actress a reality after finding some old letters that her mother had written her father in the attic. Veronica learns that her mother was also an aspiring actress who left her life in a little city in pursuit of becoming successful in LA–And that is just where Veronica heads to start her big city life.

Veronica drives to LA and stays with one of her childhood friends and fellow Vee and soon learns that life in LA is nothing like she had imagined and that in order to be a successful actress, you don’t merely have to be good at acting. While learning the ropes of this new city and spending her life savings on head shots and a myriad of acting, yoga and movement classes, Veronica realizes that being confident and talented are the least sought after attributes when it comes to being an actress.

Struggling with sending head shots, waiting for call backs and going on cattle calls and auditions, Veronica starts working as a barista and makes friends with two other fellow actors. She loves her job at the coffee shop and her new friends, but her attraction to the manager is also weighing down hard on her path to stardom.

All About Vee is a must-read book for all young teenage girls, in my opinion, for the simple fact that Purtill illustrates how women who aren’t a size 0 are treated not only in LA and not only because they are striving to become actresses, but all across this country. She gives the weight epidemic that plagues so many young girls a story and luckily, Veronica does not change a thing about her weight throughout the book, which I was impressed with.

Through her time in LA, Veronica learns that those who you think are your friends can change and become people you don’t want to associate yourself with, that people can be brutal and backstabbing and to always remember who the people that love you are because those will be the people who want and help you to succeed in life.

Go Green in Your Garden

I have noticed that there are quite a few more “go green” commercials airing on television. Not only that, but many companies have seen to pick up the same tactics in all consumer media–Television, online, magazines; you name it, and it’s going green.

Companies want you to buy organically–Food, bath and body products, laundry detergents and so on, but when I got down to thinking, one place where you should most definitely be letting your eco-friendliness shine is when you’re using your green thumb.

Don’t let your plants and flowers soak up all the green in your garden. Many gardeners don’t realize simply how ironic it is that you’re growing green but you’re not necessarily going green when it comes to most small gardens and one of the most controversial elements when it comes to your garden are the products you are using to help keep your garden beautiful. One of the biggest things that can keep your garden from looking it’s best are weeds and instead of spending an entire day pulling weeds out by hand when you can be tending to the other aspects of your garden, you must find yourself an excellent weed killer.

Weed killers aren’t environmentally friendly; in fact, weed killers use harsh chemicals to kill weeds, but while you may think that they are getting the job done in that department, they are also harming your other plants–And that goes triple if you have a vegetable garden! Luckily, there is now an organic herbicide that is safe to use for you, your pets and children and the environment.

Nature's Avenger Nature’s Avenger is an all-natural organic herbicide that is completely natural and designed to meet the needs and demands of gardeners, homeowners and Mother Nature.

It has been approved for use in organic production, is fast-acting with visible results in just two hours or even less and it is also highly biodegradable. It is made with natural citrus oil, which means you aren’t dealing with harsh chemicals with harsh chemical smells. With Nature’s Avenger, your sense of smell, braincells and health of pets and children are fully taken care of.

Nature’s Avenger is available is a 24oz pre-mixed, pre-measured, easy to use spray bottle and also in 32oz and 1 gallon concentrates and can be purchased through their website or on Amazon.

Book Review: A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids by Margot Datz

Margot Datz is a self-taught painter, sculptor, interior designer and prolific writer whose imagery and beautifully crafted metaphors whisk those who read her words away, almost immediately.

As a woman who lives by the sea and spends her life creating genius pieces of art, including a spectacular eighty-five-foot mural and bas-relief installation for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and illustrations for four children’s books for friend Carly Simon, her talent is apparent and defined in her book, A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids.

Her book, while it may first look like a typical children’s book, is filled with the wisdom a woman learns through years of life experience. She advises that in order to even think about a man in your life, you must first not only accept, but truly love yourself, faults and all. She also goes through the types and behaviors of men and reminds us all that love is a luxury to have in one’s life.

While Datz advises us women on all of life’s little setbacks and luxuries, she also reminds us that it’s important to also focus on the fun stuff, like accessories and sexy lingerie that makes a woman feel her absolute best and it’s always important to be a little naughty.

I really enjoyed reading A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids. It’s a cute and quick read, while also being inspirational and eye-opening for all women who have the pleasure of picking up this book.

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