Monthly Archives: September 2009

Album Review: Joshua Bell, At Home With Friends

I was given the opportunity to review Joshua Bell’s new album (Released yesterday!), At Home With Friends, and am so excited to share with you how much I loved it! jb_cover First, however, here’s a look at the tracks on the album:

Album Track Listing:

  1. I Loves You Porgy featuring Chris Botti, trumpet
  2. Come Again featuring Sting, vocals
  3. Oblivion featuring Carel Kraayenhof, bandoneon
  4. Cinema Paradiso featuring Josh Groban, vocals
  5. Para Tí featuring Tiempo Libre, various
  6. My Funny Valentine featuring Kristin Chenoweth, vocals
  7. Maybe So featuring Edgar Meyer Sam Bush and Mike Marshall, strings
  8. Grieg: Sonata No. 3 featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff (Zenph re-performance)
  9. Eleanor Rigby featuring Frankie Moreno, piano & vocals
  10. O, Cease Thy Maiden Fair featuring Nathan Gunn, baritone
  11. Il Postino featuring Carel Kraayenhof, bandoneon
  12. Left Hand Song featuring Regina Spektor, piano & vocals
  13. Chovendo Na Roseira featuring Dave Grusin, piano
  14. Look Away featuring Edgar Meyer, bass and Chris Thile, mandolin
  15. Variant Moods: Duet for Sitar & Violin featuring Anoushka Shankar, sitar
  16. I’ll Take Manhattan featuring Marvin Hamlisch, piano

Joshua Bell has an extensive background. He’s been in the spotlight since age 14 and has recorded more than 30 albums since. Learn more about this Grammy Award winning artist on his website.

I really enjoyed this album. The instrumentals were extremely well done and fit together nicely. The album offers something for everyone; there are pieces that have a romantic feel, a couple that are upbeat, some opera style pieces, compositions you might hear in a coffee shop, and one with a European flair. jb_pr A wide variety of instruments are also represented, adding to the blended yet unified feel of the album.

There were several tracks I thoroughly enjoyed, and two that just weren’t for me. I loved:

  • 1. I found this track to be calming and peaceful.
  • 2. Well, because I adore Sting, this one was a no brainer.
  • 5. This is such a fun track. It’s got an upbeat Spanish tempo. It sounds playful and seems to tell a story.
  • 11. While listening to this track, I feel like I’m walking down a small cobblestone street somewhere in Italy.

And to be fair, these are the two tracks that were well done but just weren’t my style:

  • 6. While this is well done, I prefer the original … it’s just how I am (more here).
  • 12. I like Regina Spektor and expected to like this track. I’m not sure of exactly just what it was, but something didn’t work for me.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the album. Joshua Bell is amazing … but from his amazing biography, we should know that. If you’re looking for a dinner party, background music type album, I highly recommend Joshua Bell’s At Home With Friends.

Want more? Here’s a link to Joshua’s website, as well as his Facebook fan page. Widgets more your thing? Then you must check this out, too! Joshua will also appear on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien on October 2nd.


Note: As mentioned above, I received a copy of At Home With Friends from One2One Network in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone. If you want to know more about my thoughts and policies on product reviews, go here.


Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Donald Miller found himself down and out – after writing a successful memoir, he still didn’t feel like he had made it. miller_donald When two movie producers begin to write the screenplay based on Don’s book Blue Like Jazz, they lead Don on an introspective journey about how interesting his life really is. Throughout the process, Don thinks about his life story, and more specifically, what he can change to make his story more interesting. Instead of sitting back and watching stories happen, Don makes changes in his own life to turn his own life into a story.

Don’s stream of consciousness writing style makes the book an easy, quick read. Additionally, Don’s story is indirectly encouraging and enlightening. I found myself relating to what Don was going through and looking at my own life – considering the story I’m writing and how I can make changes to improve.

If by the end of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years you haven’t thought about your own life and its story, it’s time you dive in a little deeper – it’s hard to walk away from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years without being touched and encouraged on a personal level.

Note: Many thanks to Thomas Nelson, the publishing company that provided the above mentioned book for my review. If you want to know more about my thoughts and policies on product reviews, go here.

The Strong Life Test for Women

As you may know, I have a book review coming on Monday, October 5th on Marcus Buckingham’s book, Find Your Strongest Life. While I’ll hold my review until then, I want to share with you this awesome tool that is a companion to the book: The Strong Life Test for Women. If you’re at all interested in finding out more about yourself, please take a couple of minutes to take this quiz …

[clearspring_widget title=”The Strong Life Test for Women” wid=”4a6e274b799f5199″ pid=”4ac0f4c78a8953b7″ width=”200″ height=”450″ domain=””]

Honestly, it was dead on for me. The nine possible roles are: Advisor, Caretaker, Creator, Equalizer, Influencer, Motivator, Pioneer, Teacher, Weaver. For those of you who know me, what do you think of my results? I was:

My Lead Role: Advisor

You begin by asking:
‘What is the best thing to do?’

Your thrill comes from knowing that you are the person others turn to for the answer. You don’t necessarily want to be the person who actually makes the changes happen. Rather, what excites you is being valued by others for your insight and your judgment.

Your best quality:
Your ability to find a solution

Search for data to support your advice

Be careful you:
Don’t get frustrated by other people’s failings

Your smartest career move:
Any job where you’re paid to be opinionated

My Supporting Role: Influencer

You begin by asking:
‘How can I move you to act?’

In virtually every situation, your eye goes to the outcome.

Your best quality:
Your ability to outwit others

Keep your eye on the specific outcome you want

Be careful you:
Don’t waste your time with people who can’t make things happen

Your smartest career move:
Any job where you’re paid to persuade others to act

As I took the quiz, I found that there were a few questions where I was 50/50 on two responses. Curious, I went back and took the quiz again with the second option, and guess what? My lead role was the same – Advisor! The only change was in my supporting role, which the second time around became …

Your Supporting Role: Caretaker

You begin by asking:
‘Is everyone okay?’

You are acutely aware of everyone else’s emotional state, particularly if you sense they are feeling hurt or slighted. You are instinctively inclusive, always looking for ways to draw others into the circle and make them feel wanted, heard, and appreciated.

Your best quality:
Your open heart

Be willing to ask people for favors in return

Be careful you:
Don’t get so consumed with other people’s feelings that you forget your own

Your smartest career move:
Any job where you’re paid either to play on a team or lead the team.

If you take the quiz (You should! Either here or there …), share your results in the comments below – I’d love to hear what you think and if your roles match your personality and lifestyle.

Don’t forget to check back on October 5th for my review of Find Your Strongest Life! Just a little sneaky heads up … I LOVE the book so far!

word of the week: 09.28.09


I’m thinking a lot today about my “life story” – what I’m creating through my everyday interactions and how I can make it more meaningful and interesting. That led me to this week’s word of the week:

introspect: [v: in-truhspekt]
Consider one’s own feelings and internal state.

alphabitty moments – D

Aah, I love this week’s letter, too!

These Alphabitty Moments layouts are so much fun! MamaBear at 4 the Love of Family kicked off the fun to keep record of the little things our children do. She, along with the other weekly participants, have some amazing ideas and cute memories … you really should check it out!

I couldn’t decide on what to do for the letter D until I asked a few friends … and they knew just what I should go with – doggie!

When we first brought Lily home, and for probably the first month and a half, where Lily was, Cody was. Seemed he was never more than a few feet away. And if she cried, he wouldn’t rest until one of us got her. As soon as she’d start, he’d come to let us know. We thought he’d be a huge problem because he’s typically very jealous, but overall, he’s taken the addition very, very well. We really couldn’t have asked for anything better! G-pa’s theory is that he knew she was on her way long before she actually arrived. I’ll take that theory!

Notice in each of the pictures of Lily that Cody can be found either discovering his new friend or in the background – it’s like Where’s Waldo!

So, without further ado, I bring you the letter D, which is for doggie!


A note on the background – I used this tutorial to create the background for this layout – it was easy to follow and fun to create! If you enjoy this sort of design work and want to create something similar, I’d highly recommend this tutorial!

Psst …
Want to see all of the Alphabitty posts together? They can be found here …
Want more information on these Alphabitty Moments? Yep, it’s awesome! That information is here …

P.S. – Don’t forget … if you want to win your very own copy of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller, jump over here and leave a comment – any comment by Friday, 9/25!

a dozen social media applications

I love this article; there are so many good applications for social media, and this is such a great summary.

A Dozen Social Media Applications

Shared via AddThis

link of the week …

Peanut and I attended our first playdate through a local meetup group on Saturday and had a blast! I’m not sure if these playdates are more for our little ones or the moms – at this early age, I’m really thinking it’s more for us!

We had some fantastic discussions, and at one point were talking about the site being featured as the link of the week: The mom telling us about the site said the site features one bargain item until it’s sold out, then they move on to another bargain item. Sweet!

Directly from their “How It Works” page … ~ The word of mom says our deals are so hot, they’re almost free! Every single item, ALWAYS 50-80% off it’s retail value.

Here is the most important part of our website: WE OFFER MORE THAN ONE DEAL A DAY! We just do it one deal at a time. We don’t list items at a certain time of the day, it’s very random, mysterious and completely unplanned what products we will feature and when they will feature. You need to keep checking back throughout the day to find new deals, once one is gone, you will see another new deal immediately after! Most days you will see anywhere between 2-10 deals during the entire 24 hour period of time, so it pays to keep checking back. You snooze, you lose – you don’t want to miss out on something, so be sure to refresh your browser, or follow us on twitter or facebook, you will see updates on these pages whenever a new item pops up, and remember, this will happen more than one time every day!

So, for all you moms out there, check it out if you haven’t been there yet. Have you used and love it or hate it? Let us know!