The Imperiled Ocean Winner!

The Imperiled Ocean by ocean journalist Laura Trethewey is a deeply reported work of narrative journalism that follows people as they head out to sea. What they discover holds inspiring and dire implications for the life of the ocean — and for all of us back on land. Battles are fought, fortunes made, lives lost, and the ocean approaches an uncertain future.

Congratulations to Missy from Illinois, the winner of Laura’s freshly minted and personally autographed book! These smart and thought-provoking stories are worth sitting down and thoroughly ingesting. Here is an excerpt from her piece, Cleaning the Coast.

Thank you, Laura, for an exploration of the earth’s last wild frontier, and the opportunity to get to know it – and you – better.

A worn piece of plastic drifted on the ocean over a thousand miles from civilization. A sailboat approached with a 30-year-old woman on board. She leaned out over the gunwale to pick the plastic from the surface. Except she couldn’t: long, dangling seaweed roped the plastic to the water. She reeled up the weed, hand over hand; it stretched deeper and deeper into the depths. Down below, she saw fish darting between the fronds.

As Chloé Dubois sailed farther into a slowly spinning gyre of plastic in the largest ocean on Earth, she experienced this scene again and again. It was 2015, and Chloé and her team at the nonprofit Ocean Legacy had sailed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to collect microplastic samples for The Ocean Cleanup, another plastic-pollution nonprofit.

Using samples collected by 37 boats, Chloé’s included, that trawled a 3.5-million-square-kilometer swath of the Pacific, Ocean Cleanup hoped to create the first high-resolution map of ocean plastic. Chloé remembers hauling up the water-sampling trawler and peeking in at its contents on deck, and discovering all manner of marine stowaways in the detritus. How did you get here? she wondered as she picked up a tiny crab clinging to a bottle cap in the middle of the formidable ocean. Drifting by the boat, she saw buoys covered with gooseneck barnacles. Ocean-knotted islands of rope that hid masses of organisms.

“On the news, there’s this plastic island in the middle of the ocean that’s the size of Texas, and that’s pretty much what people know unless they go out there and experience it for themselves,” she said. Instead of a floating island of waste, as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so often portrayed, she encountered more of a drifting slurry. The pollution came in all shapes and stages of degradation, from microscopic particles and fibers, to toothbrushes, bottles and great tangles of fishing nets and lines.

She witnessed, too, how nature worked with the plastic intruders. In the ocean, bacteria and algae quickly glom onto any floating feature they can find, drawn to the nutrients that collect there. More and larger animals, like barnacles and tubeworms, follow suit, fastening themselves to the marine debris. How productive of the ocean to use the plastic to build tiny ecosystems out on a vast desert of salt water, where so little life thrives in comparison to coastal waters.

The Garbage Patch was not a dead zone at all, she realized, but a world teeming with life.

Since she was 17 years old, Chloé has been involved in the environmental movement. In her early twenties, she began collecting plastic from beaches and she’s now cleaned shorelines across Mexico, Alaska, Costa Rica, Panama, and Canada. When she was 29, she co-founded the nonprofit Ocean Legacy, and she has become obsessed with cleaning plastic from the environment. She knows the names, acronyms, and resin codes of the plastic pantheon like they’re her children.

For a moment, Chloé hesitated before destroying the little crab’s home, this plastic piece of garbage that it had found and colonized and survived on against all the odds. Rationally, she knew that the crab’s plastic bottle cap was on its way to becoming a toxic pill. Plastic is a master at teasing out toxins from the ocean, sucking floating chemicals from the water column and condensing them into ever more hazardous forms. Industrial metals, pesticides, fertilizers, plastic softeners, and flame retardants can dissolve in water or be hydrophobic, meaning they want out of the water fast. Plastic already contains some of the chemical contaminants found in water, and that makes certain types of plastic naturally attractive hosts to wayward chemicals. A smaller animal might then ingest that poisoned plastic item, covered in slimy nutrients and pollutants, like PCBs, that have been banned on land for decades but are still drifting out in the ocean. A larger animal will then eat this animal, and up the food chain the plastic goes, magnifying its toxicity as it jumps to each new animal.

Chloé knew all this. She had seen the damage firsthand, yet destroying an animal’s home still gave her pause.

Then she plunged her hands in and removed all the plastic she could find, no matter how much life clung to it. The team built a home for displaced crabs in a glass tank on deck.

When they had sailed outside the center of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Chloé dove off the boat and into the sea. When she climbed back on board, tiny pellets of plastic covered her skin. After a month and a half sailing across the Pacific, her sailboat returned to land with 154 water samples hauled up from across the ocean. Every single one contained plastic.

Not all plastic is a problem. Much of it helps us and is integrated into every step of human life from birth to death. As I write this, I tap away on computer keys made of plastic, scroll through webpages on a mouse made of plastic, and peer through glasses rimmed with plastic. It’s the cheap, omnipresent plastic that lasts hundreds of years but is built to throw away the second after we use it that’s a big problem, perhaps one of the biggest for the ocean.

For almost as long as industrial plastic production has existed, we’ve known that plastic was going in the ocean. In the 1970s, a team of researchers sampling water in the sluggish Sargasso Sea reported that tiny plastic fragments were floating on the surface. During a 1997 yacht race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, a sailing scientist named Charles Moore passed through a remote stretch of Pacific Ocean and found himself surrounded by plastic debris in all directions. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it was later called, grabbed the world’s attention.

Suddenly there was a tangible place where all our waste was going, just outside the limits of our imagination.

The sea is a vast, deep, mutable force that covers 71 percent of the Earth. Plastic is small, ubiquitous, and breaks into ever-smaller pieces. When these two meet, they marry: a horrible collision between the synthetic and the natural.

A trawl sample collected from the Great Pacific Gyre by Ocean Legacy.

Given enough time, the ocean has the ability to spread plastic to the most remote reaches of the planet. Today, plastic is drifting in the waters off Antarctica. Plastic comes down in rain. Plastic fibers pass through the filter-feeding valves of oysters. Not long ago, Japan’s Deep-sea Debris Database reported finding a fully intact plastic bag in the Mariana Trench, the deepest underwater trough in the world.

We still don’t know exactly how much plastic is going into the ocean. One study, published in Science in February 2015, conservatively estimates that eight million metric tons of plastic is entering the ocean each year from municipal solid waste streams on land. That is 200 times higher than what had last been calculated in 1975 based on plastic pollution entering the ocean from maritime activities, and more than 2,000 times higher than what had been estimated from floating debris samples.

In that 2015 study in Science, environmental engineer Jenna Jemback and her co-authors argue that barring any major changes, plastic going into the ocean will multiply by a factor of 10 in 2025. That’s 80 million metric tons of plastic dumped in the ocean each year.

Despite the startling numbers of waste already in the ocean, our love of plastic endures. Plastic production is growing and expanding right along with plastic demand. By 2030, our need for plastic is expected to double.

The financial guru Warren Buffett once compared a stock market crash to the tide going out: you find out who’s been swimming naked all along. During the 2008 financial crisis, we discovered that big banks can fail. For centuries, we’ve believed the same of the ocean: that it was simply too big to fail. But an encroaching movement of threats, such as a warming ocean, overfishing, and pollution, could change that in the not-too-distant future.

If we could see beneath the surface, what would we find at the bottom of the sea? Perhaps millions of tons of plastic lying undisturbed, except for the bottom-dwellers that nibble at the nutrients collecting on it. Perhaps this evidence of the world’s waste will eventually become a layer of sediment pressed between rock layers: the Plastic Era, a fitting symbol of human-made change, baked into the Earth’s crust.

Author Giveaway, The Imperiled Ocean

Laura Trethewey sits across the folding table from me on bright San Diego Tuesday mornings, but we’re not supposed to talk to each other. The writing room is pretty much like sitting in detention and being forced to write a three page essay on dust bunnies before the bell rings. We swing between frantic typing and staring in frozen silence at our screens – or out the window – and this is what we do for fun.

It works.

All of us writers come and go in anonymity here unless we make it a point to step out for a ten minute break. On one of these jaunts between our laptops and the coffee place down the way, I discovered that Laura was working on nonfiction essays about the ocean. And she’s been working on them for a while. When you meet other writers, it’s polite to ask about their projects, but I’ve found that sometimes the best stories are the writers themselves. Laura’s been on a lot of travels and adventures, and writing them down for magazines and newspapers has recently culminated in her first book, The Imperiled Ocean. Congratulations, Laura!

Laura is a native Canuck who has also lived in Scotland but now lives here. Because, San Diego. You can read all about her on her website, but her projects, like this video, which she wrote, researched, and produced, will give you an idea of her passion for all things ocean.

Hubby and I attended her book launch last month. We sat in the cozy downtown bookstore, listening to her broad perspective on the relationship between people and the ocean. “I’m very curious,” she said, “about the ways that people view and use the water. I’m used to thinking about traveling over water, by boat for example, but I hope this book helps people think about the ocean from many other angles.” As these amazing essays cover topics from refugees to plastic pollution to Hollywood, I’d say Laura did just that.

On a life raft in the Mediterranean, a teenager from Ghana wonders whether he will reach Europe alive, and if he does, whether he will be allowed to stay. In the North Atlantic, a young chef disappears from a cruise ship, leaving a mystery for his friends and family to solve. A water-squatting community battles eviction from a harbor in a Pacific Northwest town, raising the question of who owns the water. In this exploration of the earth’s last wild frontier, I follow seven true stories of the ocean undergoing tremendous change as it faces an uncertain future.

To win an awesome autographed copy of her new book, enter a comment in the box below. Entries will be accepted through Sunday the 26th at midnight and the winner will be announced next week on the 28th! Addresses accepted from anywhere in the world that a book can be mailed.

Laura Trethewey reporting from the Dogpatch, an off-grid boating community fighting eviction from the harbor of Ladysmith, British Columbia.

Sweet as Pie Winner

Congrats to our Pie-in-a-Jar Giveaway drawing winner! Mark Ishman will be enjoying a personal sized Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie made by “The Peace of Pie” bloggess, Jessica Gelineau. A huge ‘Thank You!’, Jess, for helping us kick off the holidays with sweetness and fun. And thank you to everyone who played along, we’ll do it again soon!

Jess has been years working her way through Ken Haedrich’s pie book and savoring every bite. For the rest of us longing to sample this recipe, we include it here with Jess’ notes sprinkled throughout.

And if you just can’t get enough, visit Ken Haedrich’s Pie Academy website to access how-to videos, recipes, and all of his books. Happy Baking!

Crust: Ken Haedrich’s Basic Flaky Pie Pastry

Single Crust:

Cut up 1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter into small pieces and set aside. Measure out 1/4 cup of cold vegetable shortening and set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Toss well, by hand, to mix. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is broken into pieces the size of small peas.

Add the shortening and pieces and continue to rub in until the fat is all in small pieces and very much incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Fill the 1/4 cup you were using for shortening with cold water. Sprinkle half of the water over the mixture. Toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture.

Add the remaining water, 1 1/2 to 2 tbs. at a time, and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and gently pressing down on the downstroke. Add a little more water, 1 tsp at a time, if necessary, until the dough can be packed together in a ball.

Once it is packable, make a ball and press down to flatten it somewhat into a thick disk. Wrap the pastry (I use a piece of wax paper and fold all the corners under) and refrigerate until firm enough to roll.

Filling:
3 and 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Granny Smith, Cortland, Northern Spy, or other apples
3 and 1/2 cups cored and sliced ripe pears, peeled or unpeeled
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
Cornmeal Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1. If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
2. On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Combine the apples, pears, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the fruit. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth the filling with your hands to even it out. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Scatter the butter over the mixture and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs. Empty the crumbs into a medium-size bowl and rub them between your fingers to make large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
6. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tamp them down lightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills. Continue to bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, another 30 minutes.
7. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

In the beginning…

You can almost smell it

Made by hand

Crumble topping

Happy ending!

Pie Giveaway Time!

Thank you everyone for putting up with me last month. NaNoWriMo is no small thing.

To reward your patience, and to celebrate THE END, we’re having a drawing for a giveaway! Pie eating contest Pie throwing contest Pie-in-a-Jar Gifting is a great way to kick off the month of December, and it’s so much better than Figgy Pudding.

By “we”, I mean a collaboration with my favorite pie baker, Jessica Gelineau. Her luscious pie blog, “The Peace of Pie“, has kept me company for years. The stunning visuals are almost as good as tasting, and calorie-free. Jess is a wife, a mom, a math teacher. She wears as many hats as most of us do, but tops it off with a baker’s hat. Read her story here. I’m just saying that if you were born with a “pie thumb”, it’s a sign. And the world is holding their cuppas and waiting. For pies. On your front porch, Jess.

Now, I’ve been known to exploit the mason jar epidemic back in the day, as you recall. I will never eat a salad in a jar. But Pie-in-a-Jar, as she puts it, is as exciting as it sounds:

  • They’re pies. In JARS.
  • They’re so super cute.
  • What’s better than a slice of pie? A whole pie to yourself.
  • What’s more socially acceptable than eating a whole pie? Eating a whole mini pie.
  • What’s easier to transport than a jar with a lid?…Nothing.

To enter your name in the drawing, please make a comment in the Message box, below. You have until Sunday, December 8th, 2019, at midnight to add your comment. On Monday, into the sorting hat you’ll go and the lucky winner will be announced the 10th.

The winning Pie-in-a-Jar will be a Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie from Ken Haedrich’s pie cookbook, because she just bought a big fresh jar of five spice powder – the one alluded to in the Butternut Squash pie in her latest post, here. This is how the story begins, and this is how the story ends.

You really, really, want to be a part of this story. I mean, these things inspired poetry!

Stay tuned, ya’all. Even if you don’t win, you’ll win. Next week I’ll post the recipe, links, and more festive pie fun so we can all raise a cuppa together.

 

Adventure is Out There

Bongiorno, Tribe!

I hope you are as excited to hear about our Italian adventures as I am to tell them. It’s certainly been a strange, jet lagged last couple of days attempting to remember who I am and what I do. I have no idea where I’m going next. But this trip reminded me that the unknown is only as scary or adventurous as you decide it is.

Attraversiamo.

Thank you for being here with me.

First things first!

Congratulations going out to Melinda, our Forgetful Files Give-Away winner!

Your gift was purchased with real euros from the Firenze Musei (secret code for Florence Museum) gift shop in the Galleria dell Accedemia and carried all over Italy and then back to America. So it’s already got a history. This Fine Art Colouring Book contains full colour photos of…fine art and pulls excerpts out for you to…colour. Shipped in it’s original plastic sales bag, it comes with extra “u”s and includes a bookmark of my main man David.

The man is fine. Suitable for framing.

 

Before we launch into the stories, I will give you the nuts and bolts of our trip planning, in case you are going to Italy sometime soon.

(If the thought of planning a trip to Italy – or anywhere for that matter-  seems overwhelming, I am happy to refer you to my girlfriend, Kim, who is a travel agent. She can hook you up!)

Five cities, three days each. Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice.

Airline tickets, airport transfers, four of the hotels, travel insurance, and tickets for Pompeii/Vesuvius tours and an opera performance were planned and purchased through tripmasters.com. They have a phone app that operates off line with your full itinerary and the map section worked very well for navigating new cities. You can download a city on googlemaps while on wifi and have it handy later, but this did not always cooperate.

The fifth hotel was secured directly (Cinque Terre).

Train tickets were purchased through trinitalia.com.

Ferry tickets (Naples to Sorrento and back) were purchased through traghettilines.it.

More tour tickets were secured through tripadvisor.com (Capri, Siena/Winery Tour, Vatican/Colosseum).

Vouchers for St Marks Basilica and the Campanile through venetoinside.com.

Tower of Pisa was booked directly at bigliettionline@opapisa.it.

All other tickets were bought on site as needed, like the Metro, museums, duomo, buses, vaporetto, hiking trails, bathrooms…

There is no Uber in Italy. The “Uber” they use is black Uber. Everyone uses the “mytaxi” app instead. You can rent cars or scooters but only if you’re a crazy person. We walked everywhere and loved it. But we might be crazy people, too.

While I purchased an international plan for my phone “just in case”, I only used it once. Our family uses the “whatsapp” app. Between the app and social media, we had plenty of communication. As a side note, although hotels and trains claim to have wifi, more than half the time it was completely inadequate for use. It’s a good reminder that you are on vacation and the kids are just fine and you should let it go already.

If you have any specific questions on my trip planning, I will try to answer them below in the comment box.

Meanwhile, if you have to know, I couldn’t help feeling underwhelmed by the Italian landscape. It was gorgeous and felt, most of the time, like we were home. My hunch that we live in paradise is fairly well cemented after this trip. There were lantana, eucalyptus, oleander along freeways. Olive, lemon, and avocado trees. Morning glory covering fences along extensive grape vineyards. Hibiscus, succulents, and geraniums in pots. Cactus. The cypress and ash were the same trees from my neighborhood.

The one exotic thing (by Dr Seuss standards) we discovered in Italy was the Umbrella Pine. Instead of the triangular Christmas pine tree that I am used to, these pines grow up and out, creating a green canopy as the lower branches turn brown and die back. In the cities, they keep the dead stuff trimmed up and the result is an elegant lofty pine that shades the park without taking up path space. They very much resemble the interiors of basilicas: towering columns supporting curving domed ceilings.

I would love this for Christmas. Well. The decorated tree or the decorated ceiling. I’m flexible.

Now, on with the show!

It’s Time for a Give-Away!

This September is overflowing with happy things and I’m about to pass it on to you!

It was not enough that I spent my big bad birthday lounging in a spa oasis, sipping lemon water and covered in red mud. Nor was it adequate that kid number five finally got his driving permit and can use his mended ankle enough to get himself to school – as a senior. Woot! Pumpkin Spice Everything is finally here. My nails are painted a fabulous combination of orchid and metallic glitter that we dubbed “Unicorn Farts”.

Life is good.

But wait. There’s more.

Yep, we are about to depart for our 30th Anniversary Trip to Italy. Meaning, of course, that I’ve got my five items packed and Hubby is still wondering whether four suitcases will be adequate for himself. It’s fun to watch.

But here’s the best news: you, my Blog Tribe, are coming along for the ride. You know who you are. Those of you who invite me into your email-box and sit for a chat and a cuppa. You won’t fit into my little suitcase, so we are going to switch up our blog game for the next couple of months.

Everyone listening?

Here’s how it works: If you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, you will see some photos coming through while we are tramping around the thigh-high stiletto boot of the Mediterranean, complete with witty hashtags (unless the jet lag wins, in which case you get what you get and don’t throw a fit). #italyplayshackysackwithsicily

Meanwhile, if you are one of the Tribe members who actually Subscribe to my blog (I love you so much), you are going to get the good stuff. After I return from galavanting, I shall sit myself down and blog all the adventures for you…and I am NOT going to post them onto Facebook, per usual. The photos are only a tease. #boohoo

Nope, only those of you with the secret insider club VIP super special Tribe status are going to Italy!

Yes, lovely friends, I am requesting that you stop everything right now and click in the little box up here with your email and Subscribe to the blog. You will love it. We have a secret handshake and everything. Only Subscribers will be getting the travel blogs and the posts will continue through October and November. Facebook will be hearing crickets. Nada. Zilch. #zippo

You important Tribe Members will also receive additional photos, recipes, and insider tips that no travel book will ever tell you! Where to go, what to see, which app on your phone most let you down….what Hubby might do if there’s no backseat driving available on the trains….

I will be tossing euros into the air and making it rain on the ruins of ancient civilization and you are coming with me.

They say Italian food in America is nothing compared to actual Italian food. Only one way to find out…

Your new Subscription goes into a drawing for a Prize From Actual Italy!

I will be scouring the duomos, canals, vineyards and metros for just the right thing. Don’t get crazy. I can’t fit a gondola in my carry-on. Or can I? There’s only one way to find out: Subscribe with an email address and start singing “O Sole` Mio” in the shower.

Don’t miss this limited time opportunity! Subscribe now! Even if you already Subscribe! Many of you have updated your email addresses without updating them in our blog Subscription list. Put another email into the box. Surprise your mom and sign her up. She always wanted to be in a Tribe. One she didn’t have to wash dishes in.

Now that’s a good Tribe.

If you are already in our Tribe, post a Comment below about the one thing you would love to see in Italy and I will add your name to the Drawing as well. Prize awarded in next blog (around October 6th)

A Little Note on the Present

This week’s winner of our CozyPhones headphones Give-Away is Ruth, from Simi Valley!

Congratulations, Ruth, your headphones are hopping your way this very moment.

And a big thank you to everyone who participated, that was so much fun.

Today is Friday, and although a great many blogs are in my head, I think we’ll be short and sweet and deliciously in the present moment.

So often I have fun bragging on the tough stuff, if only to remind us all that the golden moments shared on Facebook are only the brilliant bits between the daily grind of traffic, hairballs gifted by the cat, refrigerators full of mystery leftovers, and dirty socks hidden under the car seat from three volleyball games ago.

I wondered what that smell was.

Today was a gift.

I got to see my sons because high school is finally out for the summer. They haven’t changed a bit. They walked around the house, remembering when they used to live here.

Then they went to the beach.

I got a haircut (or my eyebrows lowered, however you choose to view it) and my product-wielding girlfriend reminded me that I could work long shifts during the week and still have a little sass left over for the weekend. Just barely.

My main squeezin’ Hubby and I went out this morning and had sugar with sugar on top for breakfast with a side of liquid sugar, because this cute little cake shop moved into town and they aren’t about to serve acai bowls. Or bee pollen. Or veggie cakes. No. Eat your sugar America!

I was a wee bit jittery thereafter and went to my massage appointment to meditate on my life choices. I burn a lot of calories just listening to the rehab mood music. I felt the sugar melt right off again.

It’s all about balance.

I even called my mother today. Boom.

At the moment, I’m sitting with my little tatertot as she sleeps, waiting for her mom and dad to come home from a much-deserved date night. The kid and I have missed each other and we had some catching up to do. We chatted about her soon-to-be-here baby brother and we worked on her big-sister sass.

She’s got what it takes, I think.

I sit here this evening, grateful and content.

The month of June kicked off with a fifth-grade play, a birthday and a baptism, then stampedes through two graduations, a wedding, Father’s Day, a baby, and a two-week family road trip to Victoria, Canada that will swing it right past the fourth of July.

Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.

CozyPhones Review and Give-Away

Who’s ready to hop into summer and win a prize?

This is my first product review and it’s really something I can get behind. Full disclosure demands that I inform you that the nice folks at cozyphones.com sent me this sample free, in exchange for an honest review on my blog.

And by honest, I’m sure they meant: have so much fun with it that everyone fights over it and you come up with ideas about it that the average mom hasn’t even thought of yet…or even the company.

“She has FIVE kids!” they thought, “if anybody can make this froggy hop, she can!”

And how right they were.

For a completely thorough review, I borrowed some kids in the proper age range: tadpoles to peepers. There are so many things going for these headphones, the fun factor is only the beginning.

When you’re a little swimmer in a big pond, it’s hard to keep up. You want to play with mom’s tablet, but the big kids’ bulky earphones are way too heavy, and they slip off. Earbuds are pokey in my ears and the cords are all in the way. Solution: CozyPhones earphones.

It’s a lightweight, fleecy headband that is as soft as my blanky and the flat earphones are hidden inside of it. I don’t even feel them. But I can hear VeggieTales loud and clear when they are plugged in, and mom can sit right beside me and enjoy her coffee in peace.

Kindergartners say YES to video games. Mom insists they are educational but iPad time is highly popular. I can sneak in a Dino Trux cartoon and my sibs won’t know the difference: it just looks like I’m wearing a fun headband. The hidden earphones keep me entertained in peace.

Well, at least until they find me.

Peeper is the cool kid on the block. Screen time is usually learning apps on the laptop for homeschooling, and done with bulky headphones on so that everyone else can get their own work done. Not only is this CozyPhones headband way more comfy, but now I can hear mom calling me when I’m in the middle of Super Smash Bros, because it doesn’t plug my ears.

Um, is that a bonus?

Double digits plugs into everything from movies to music to homework. When you’re ten you like to lounge in bed and listen to audiobooks on your Kindle. This headband lets you snuggle right into the pillow without losing your listeners. It’s soft and won’t pull hair. It’s a super cute way to hang out with a Disney playlist in the backyard.

When the kids took a look at the website, which you should do right now (cozyphones.com) they picked out which ones they would buy, making a handy gift list for all you parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles out there:

Our zoological ten year old chose the Panda. The eight and five year olds both went with the “What If Monster” which, for the uninformed, is the star of the book: Jonathan James and the Watif Monster, a must read for anyone who has been raised by the likes of my mother. Ahem.

 

Little man went with the Froggy. Because frogs are cool and everyone knows it.

CozyPhones makes sleek adult versions in lycra or fleece, for runners, travelers, winter sports, meditating, or my first thought: drop it over my eyes, too, and let me finally sleep on a plane!

For that matter, how about it helps my kid finally sleep on the car trip this summer?

This set of CozyPhones earphones is all yours if you win this week’s drawing!

To enter, either put a comment into the box below and tell me where you’re traveling this summer OR send me your info through my “Contact Me” page (top menu, far right).

BUT. If you sign up to “Follow” me, you will be entered TWICE. Enter your email into the box at the top right and then go to your email and “confirm” the process, otherwise, it won’t show up in the entry list. If your email has stopped delivery during the past year or so, it’s time to re-sign up.

This is it, kids! Hop to it!

Push This Button, Win a Prize!

It’s here! It’s here! The end of the year!

A giant “THANK YOU!” to each and every one of my readers, you make my day, you really do!

To celebrate all that’s wonderful about writing this blog, I’ve set myself a flash-goal.

Flash-goal: noun, to suddenly realize you are short by X number of Subscribers and decide immediately to hold a give-away drawing to fill the gap.

I need at least twenty-four honest, hard-working, upright ladies and gentlemen to Subscribe to this blog in the next 24 hours.

Okay, okay, a handful of scoundrels would be perfectly acceptable, too.

“I put my email address into the box right here,” you’re asking, “but even though I’m a scoundrel, I’m super worried…what will happen if I DO push this little Subscribe button?”

  1. My posts drop quietly into your email inbox. The minute they publish. I will never know if you read them or not. I will not hear you laugh or scream “I told you so!” at your kids.
  2. You won’t miss random postings because you have been relying on Facebook to see them. Facebook is notoriously unreliable, even with your BFF status’, am I right? You may have no idea that I generally post every Tuesday and Friday all year long.
  3. Your name gets put into the hat for a drawing tomorrow. If I draw your name, you win a prize!! (I’ve done this before: in March and June.)
  4. Next year, I will start sending out a monthly story that will only go to my personal Subscribers…that’s YOU! The first one will come out January 1st! Oh wait, that’s Friday. This is me, shaking a leg.
  5. An angel gets his wings….well, something like that. Because so far, the one thing you can expect from these chaotic stories is that we really, really keep our angels on their toes.

That’s it.

24 Subscribers in the next 24 hours.

C’mon, guys, you got this.

What? You are already a Subscriber?? And you want a prize, too?

Excellent point, I love that enthusiasm.

Write to me in the comment box below, and tell me which of my blogs was your favorite this year. Honestly, go ahead and make it up if you’re like me and can’t remember what you had for lunch, let alone what you read last week. I love you regardless!

Scoundrels can use an alias. It’s fine by me if you want to be known as “Scooby Doo”.

And if you have friends who would enjoy my writing, please forward this to his/her email or share this post on your Facebook page, or print it out and staple it to the street-corner telephone pole.

Because sharing is caring.

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Oh, right. The prize will be a random sampling of my favorite teas. Perhaps you don’t care for tea? You must have me over immediately. I can fix that.