Dentyne Split2Fit Pack

As a bzzagent, I often get items to check out and review and spread the bzz about.  Recently I was sent the new Dentyne Ice “Split2Fit” packs.  The new packs easily split into two sleep packs of gum that will fit almost anywhere. Shirt pocket, clutch purse, skinny jeans, fanny pack… (kidding!)  You’ll be able to put your NEW Split2Fit pack anywhere you can think of.

Part of the advertising campaign is that you can split your pack and share as well to get yourself in good graces with that girl or guy you might want to hang out with.

It is super easy to split the pack – just open it (it is stuck together with some goo), split it down the perforations and then fit the pack wherever you’d like! No purse? No problem.  The split pack will easily fit in your pants pocket.

I received 3 flavors in a variety pack to try – Dentyne Ice – Peppermint, Spearmint and Arctic Chill.  They were so fun to open and split! The perforations tear really easily, anyone can do it.

Casey James @ Mohegan Sun Wolf’s Den

Thursday night Casey James performed at the Wolf’s Den in Mohegan Sun.  This was also my 300th concert!  The show started at 8 and he played for roughly an hour and a half.  The setlist was a mix of songs off his debut album as well as a few covers.  He mentioned how on one of his songs, the guy who played steel guitar on it also played on James Taylor’s record and he did the same chord progression in his song as he did in James’ so sometimes Casey would sit in his car and listen to them back to back. (Of course I can’t remember now which song that was – so if you know comment!)

Casey shows are always a ton of fun – at one point he asked if the drinks had valium in them because the crowd wasn’t too rowdy.  Another time he shh’ed everyone and then was surprised at how quiet it got!  A girl in the front asked for a pick early on and he said he needed to use them and asked if he ran out if she would give it back for him to use.  She said yes so he gave her one.  He didn’t end up running out of picks and tossed 3 or 4 of them out in to the crowd after his last song.

He also told a story – and I hope I can do it justice because I just wrote down some basic notes about it – if it’s not totally correct I’m sorry.  But the Wolf’s Den has a screen behind the performers and I guess Casey didn’t notice it until a few songs in and wasn’t sure what was going on.  He told us about this and then said the other day he was somewhere and there was a mirror but it was angled and he didn’t realize it was a mirror.  He looked over and was like… hey that guy looks a lot like me.. and he’s staring at me!  And then he realized it was a mirror.  He teased about how he’s not so good lookin’ now, right?

After his set he did a signing in the shops.  I unfortunately couldn’t attend, but I hope he had a good turn out and sold a lot of CDs! (You had to buy his debut album to get a wristband for the signing)  I’m looking forward to Mohegan hopefully posting some photos :)

Since this was my 300th concert look for some fun ConcertKatie giveaways coming up in the next week to get every one in on the celebration.

Setlist under the cut :)

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Book Review: War Stories

War Stories is a compilation of short stories, coming in at just over 100 pages.  There are 9 stories, each with different characters and a different war that they are recovering from. Some are wrapped up in drugs, others were fighting in an actual war.

Each story is moving in its own way and you can probably find at least one of the many characters that you relate to.  The way the book is set up you can either read through all the stories at once, or if you’d like, put down the book and keep coming back to it to read a story a day or every few days.  Each short story is its own entity. The stories are fiction – but these could just have easily been real biographies of real people. The stories are real.

Many people tend to think it is easier to write a short story than a novel, but I disagree. In a short story you only have a few pages to get the entire story out there and be able to capture the reader, make them feel for the characters, know their back story, etc.  A lot of authors can miss out on doing this because they just focus on the story at hand, and give us no detail to the characters. I think that Elsabeth Doyle, the author of this book, completely hit the mark with all the short stories.  I could picture all the characters and the surroundings and felt like I was in the stories – even if some of them were only a handful of pages long!

I received a free copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated and all opinions are my own.

About the Book

We all carry our own battle scars.

This is the premise of War Stories, a rich collection of short fiction that draws upon both the literal and figurative meaning of its title. Through a diverse array of characters, settings, and circumstances, War Stories delivers a series of powerful tales from the home front of war: the stories of parents, siblings, and spouses of those who have fought, as well as those who have returned from battle.

Set against the backdrop of contemporary conflicts, War Stories’s compelling nine narratives tell of a wounded veteran who seeks renewal through an imagined relationship with a neighborhood girl, a grieving father who finds peace and reconcillation at the site of a disastrous bus crash, a young woman who searches for identity and meaning in the wake of her husband’s injury, and an urban teenager engaged in a fateful standoff with local recruiters. Interspersed with these tales are powerful, non-traditional “war stories” – of youth, unexpectaed loss, and heartbreaking love.

About the Author

Elisabeth Doyle is a writer and attorney living in Washington, D.C. She studied fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the University at Albany, and is completing a Masters of Laws Degree at Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Doyle’s short fiction was published in the literary journal Nadir and was awarded the University of Albany’s Lovenheim Prize for best short fiction. Her first short film, Hard Hearted One, was admitted to the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema and the Street Films Film Festival, and was shown on Public Television and Manhattan Cable. War Stories is her first collection of short fiction.

Book Review: The Launch Pad

The Launch Pad tells the story of Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups.  For those of you who don’t know, my “day job” is a Software Engineer.  So obviously this book was incredibly interesting to me. (Especially when they said most females in the field have a mom or dad who are an engineer – definitely true for me – my dad is an engineer too – although I credit my desire for wanting to make a Hanson website with the reason why I went in to programming / engineering and not my Dad!)  It was interesting to hear the stories behind the start ups and what the founders were doing before they started them (a lot were doing hacking, which is not my thing at all!)

I have an idea for a website (though probably not a start up) that I have been working on – honestly I probably should have been coding instead of reading this book – but at least the book kept me motivated that maybe someday I could go somewhere with this rather than bursting my bubble completely. (Databases are too tedious to set up – I can not wait for that stage of this project to be over and done with!)

Anyway – enough about me and coding and back to the book!

It was great to read about all the start ups and the mistakes they made and the ways to help make their presentations.  One of the companies was OMGPOP, I play their game Draw Something constantly, i’m obsessed. A lot of the other successful companies to come out of YC I had heard of as well.  They end up picking many different startups in hopes that one of them will hit big and make back the money they invested in all the rest.  It is a competitive business, but definitely incredibly interesting to me and I think anyone else interested in the tech world will find it interesting as well!

I received a free e-copy of this book in return for writing this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Twice a year in the heart of Silicon Valley, a small investment firm called Y Combinator selects an elite group of young entrepreneurs from around the world for three months of intense work and instruction. Their brand-new two- or three-person start-ups are given a seemingly impossible challenge: to turn a raw idea into a viable business, fast.
Each YC session culminates in a demo day, when investors and venture capitalists flock to hear pitches from the new graduates. Any one of them might turn out to be the next Dropbox (class of 2007, now valued at $5 billion) or Airbnb (2009, $1.3 billion).
Randall Stross is the first journalist to have fly-on-the-wall access to Y Combinator. He tells the full story of how Paul Graham started this ultra exclusive institution, how it chooses among hundreds of aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs, and how it teaches them to go
from concept to profitability in record time.
The Launch Pad is both a gripping narrative and a gold mine of useful insights.
Randall Stross writes the “Digital Domain” column for The New York Times and is a professor of business at San Jose State University. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including eBoysPlanet Google, and The Wizard of Menlo Park. He has a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University.

Book Review: Forever Young

Even before I thought about being an engineer, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Although I don’t think that at that time I realized the two could be related.

Forever Young tells the story of John Young, in his own words, about his life as an engineer to an astronaut.  I found it to be fascinating and incredibly well written.  I love how he described things, it really made me picture what he was talking about and almost re-live those moments with him.

Young was one of the early astronauts and talks a bit about how they didn’t really know what they were doing at times, but yet somehow things seemed to work. He talked a lot about simulation training for preparing themselves to be on the moon.  I could not even imagine!

It was fascinating to read what kind of work went in to exploring on the moon.  How exciting that must have been. Every rock they found had to be documented, several photos for each rock showing where they found it, what it looked like, where it was found in relation to the space craft. I think taking that many photos of something would be the perfect job for me! 😉

For anyone who is interested in space or wishes to be an astronaut – this book is for you.  Or if you just want to know what it is like in space and on the moon from someone who worked with NASA for more than four decades – then this is the book for you!


About the Book

The much-anticipated autobiography of a veteran astronaut

He walked on the Moon. He flew six space missions in three different programs-more than any other human. He served with NASA for more than four decades. His peers called him the “astronaut’s astronaut.”

Enthusiasts of space exploration have long waited for John Young to tell the story of his two Gemini flights, his two Apollo missions, the first-ever Space Shuttle flight, and the first Spacelab mission. Forever Young delivers all that and more: Young’s personal journey from engineering graduate to fighter pilot, to test pilot, to astronaut, to high NASA official, to clear-headed predictor of the fate of Planet Earth.

Young, with the assistance of internationally distinguished aerospace historian James Hansen, recounts the great episodes of his amazing flying career in fascinating detail and with wry humor. He portrays astronauts as ordinary human beings and NASA as an institution with the same ups and downs as other major bureaucracies. He frankly discusses the risks of space travel, including what went wrong with the Challenger and Columbia shuttles.

Forever Young is one of the last memoirs produced by an early American astronaut. It is the first memoir written by a chief of the NASA astronaut corps. Young’s experiences and candor make this book indispensable to everyone interested in the U.S. space program.


John W. Young, retired astronaut and former NASA executive, has received more than eighty major awards for his career in aerospace, including six honorary doctorates. James R. Hansen is professor of history and former director of the Honors College at Auburn University. He has been associated with the NASA History Program for the past thirty-one years, and is the author of First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong and coauthor of Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle “Challenger” Disaster.

Book Review: The Beautiful Music All Around Us

I love reading about the early songs and how they were created and by who and their lyrics.  I took a “History of Rock N Roll” class in college (yes, it counted as an elective and I got credit for it – how awesome was that?) and we learned a lot about how music started and evolved in to what it is now.

The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Records and the American Experience intiminated me at first.  Although it only chronicles 13 performances and their stories, the book was over 500 pages!  However, once I started reading it I got in to it quickly and then was surprised that the book ended just under 400 pages – the rest were all notations for the text! (You’d think by now I would realize that this is how these books work.)

One of the songs that it mentions is Shortenin’ Bread, which I definitely remember singing growing up, so it is always interesting to see the background for these songs. (And did anyone ever notice a lot of songs we teach kids are morbid? Not this one in particular, but think about it… ring around the rosie?)

If anyone is looking to further their knoledge on the history of American folk songs – than this is definitely the book for you.  You can also use it as a strating point because the notations at the end will lead you to many more books and resources to check out.

I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The Beautiful Music All Around Us presents the extraordinarily rich backstories of thirteen performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Including the children’s play song “Shortenin’ Bread,” the fiddle tune “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” the blues “Another Man Done Gone,” and the spiritual “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down,” these performances were recorded in kitchens and churches, on porches and in prisons, in hotel rooms and school auditoriums. Documented during the golden age of the Library of Congress recordings, they capture not only the words and tunes of traditional songs but also the sounds of life in which the performances were embedded: children laugh, neighbors comment, trucks pass by.

Musician and researcher Stephen Wade sought out the performers on these recordings, their families, fellow musicians, and others who remembered them. He reconstructs the sights and sounds of the recording sessions themselves and how the music worked in all their lives. Some of these performers developed musical reputations beyond these field recordings, but for many, these tracks represent their only appearances on record: prisoners at the Arkansas State Penitentiary jumping on “the Library’s recording machine” in a rendering of “Rock Island Line”; Ora Dell Graham being called away from the schoolyard to sing the jump-rope rhyme “Pullin’ the Skiff”; Luther Strong shaking off a hungover night in jail and borrowing a fiddle to rip into “Glory in the Meetinghouse.”

Alongside loving and expert profiles of these performers and their locales and communities, Wade also untangles the histories of these iconic songs and tunes, tracing them through slave songs and spirituals, British and homegrown ballads, fiddle contests, gospel quartets, and labor laments. By exploring how these singers and instrumentalists exerted their own creativity on inherited forms, “amplifying tradition’s gifts,” Wade shows how a single artist can make a difference within a democracy.

Reflecting decades of research and detective work, the profiles and abundant photos in The Beautiful Music All Around Us bring to life largely unheralded individuals–domestics, farm laborers, state prisoners, schoolchildren, cowboys, housewives and mothers, loggers and miners–whose music has become part of the wider American musical soundscape. The book also includes an accompanying CD that presents these thirteen performances, songs and sounds of America in the 1930s and ’40s.

Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade is best known for his long-running stage performances of Banjo Dancing and On the Way Home. He also produced and annotated the Rounder CD collection that gave rise to this book, A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings. Since 1996 his occasional commentaries on folksongs and traditional tunes have appeared on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Music Monday: Maroon 5 Overexposed

One More Night
Lucky Strike
The Man Who Never Lied
Love Somebody
Fortune Teller
Doin Dirt
Beautiful Goodbye

Me actually getting this album was a long time coming.  After seeing the band live at Foxwoods Casino in May, I decided  I was 100% going to do a pre-order package.  I ended up going for one that was nearly $90 which included postcards and Songs About Jane’s 10th anniversary edition. (Crazy that I have been a Maroon 5 fan for nearly 10 years now – I was first introduced to them in November 2002 when they opened for John Mayer)

It was supposed to come on or before the release date – so I was hoping I’d have it around the time I went to see them perform Live on Letterman.  Unfortunately there was some sort of back order with pieces of the preorder so they were delaying the shipping.   I didnt like this at all.  I pre-ordered to gte it on or before the release date – how were items on back order? You would think at least enough for the pre-orders would have been in the order they made, right?  Second – this was a new release so why not send the items that they had in stock first and the back ordered items later? (Part of John Mayer’s pre order was backordered – they sent me what they had in stock AND 20% off my next purchase at his store to make up for it – THIS is how it should be done)

I ended up emailing for a refund and picking the album up on iTunes for $4.99. I do still think I’ll end up getting a physical copy of the cd though because the cover art is so cool I need to hold it in my hands to check it out.  I requested the refund I believe in June when I got fed up with waiting and it didn’t go through until August.  I will definitely be hesitant to do any pre-orders through TopSpin media in the future.

Anyway – now that my rant about the album is over – here are some words about my thoughts on the actual album.

It is really, really great.  Typically there are songs on CDs that I skip over – I decide I dislike them usually by the second listen (mostly by the first but give them a second chance just in case) but before writing this review I listened to the CD at least 3 times in a row on a road trip down to PA and then 2 times in its entirety while at work (as well as listening to random tracks here and there as well!)

The album really doesn’t have any songs that I think are “filler” and I can easily here all of them on the radio as singles. (I read that they purposely create all their songs to be pop singles – which is a pretty smart idea. Why put crap on the album just to reach a song quota? Everything should be quality!)

I am very much so looking forward to their tour in 2013 promoting the album and can not wait to experience these songs live!

Product Review: Toe Juice + Giveaway

In 1970, Royce Garner, a high school science teacher in Boise, Idaho, produced his first batch of Toe Juice.  He decided to create this when his infant song had flaking, dry, cracked feet.  The many lotions and creams that were on the market at that time were ineffective and messy.  Royce did some research, went to his lab, and came out with a revolutionary new product.  Not only did Toe Juice fix and prevent further complications with his son’s feet, but over the years many friends, family and acquaintances have benefited from the strength of Royce’s Toe Juice.
Although Toe Juice has “TOE” in the name, it is a head to toe skin care product and the makers have received testimonials from people about its effectiveness for a large variety of uses. Here are some of the most common categories Toe Juice is used for:


Acne, Athletes Foot, Cold Sores, Diabetic, Eczema, Foot Problems, Ichthyosis, Insect Bites, Jock Itch, Jungle Rot, Misc. Skin Irritation, Psoriasis, Rashes, Ringworm, Warts.

I received a free bottle of Toe Juice to try out.  Originally I had intended to just use it on my dry, cracked feet.  However, around the time it arrived I was attacked by some bugs. (Attack might be an understatement as I have 13 bites on my right leg alone.)  When I saw that it worked for insect bites as well, I decided to try it out for that as well because I was SO. ITCHY!

It definitely was a relief for my bug bites – the main ingredient is alcohol which is what I was considering bathing in anyway to get the itchyness to go away.

It also worked for my feet too. It did take a few applications for me to notice any difference, but once I started using it regularly, I was hooked.  It is definitely a product I will be keeping stocked in my medicine cabinet!

Want to get your own free bottle of Toe Juice? (Just pay shipping) head on over!

If you’d prefer to walk into a brick and mortar store to pick up some Toe Juice – it is now available in Walgreens stores throughout the US!

Social Media for Toe Juice


Other Websites to Check out

Toe Juice®
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



Book Review: How To Find The Right One

How To Find The Right One & Make It Last is all about bringing love and romance back to dating.  A lot of the chapters definitely made me think – I have not been on a date in years and it is really not one of my priorities.  Of course, the book talks a bit about those “married to their career” and while I would not say that is me – I definitely would rather be home alone for the evening than go out on many dates to try and find the right guy.

The book has some tips on how to figure out what is is that I want in a man and a relationship – which should be helpful in screening out guys before we go on dates.  It also focuses a bit on the pros and cons of online dating.  This is something I have thought about – a lot of my friends have met their boyfriends, fiances and husbands on dating sites.  I signed up for one simply because my friend wanted me to check out a potential guy for her (and you couldn’t look at results unless you were a member).  I sign on the site from time to time but am always bombared with messages from very strange guys – one lived at home with his parents (I do too – so I can’t exactly fault him for that) but then told me he could “sneak me in the basement door” and we could get away with whatever we wanted in the basement.  Am I 13? That set off a huge red flag – this is behavior of a teenager, not a 20something.  So I have been turned off a bit by online dating due to these messages – though I guess if I really get serious about it I should use a paid site as I hear those get better results because there are less people looking for casual relationships.  (A lot of my best friends I met online so it only makes sense that Id find a potential dating relationship online as well.)

One of the things I didn’t like in the book was the mention of giving yourself a make over to attract attention.  I guess in theory a makeover will make you feel better about yourself and then you’ll give off better vibes – but I am me. If I got a makeover I would no longer be me.  And the book also mentions about being true to yourself and acting like you normally would.  I wouldn’t want to “trick” a guy in thinking I get all made up with nice hair every day – because I don’t.  I never bother with makeup and don’t do much with my hair. I don’t think a makeover would change these habits for more than a day. I think this would be deceiving.

But the rest of the book definitely gave me a lot to think about and a lot of ideas for some fun and interesting dates! If you think it might help you – pick it up. The end of each chapter has a summary of what is discussed, so it would be easy to skim that and if anything catches your eye and you think it might help you out, then you can go back and read the more detailed information supplied in the chapter.

I received a free copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

How to Find the Right One & Make It Last! Book Summary

We all want that special someone in our lives. But isn’t it odd that one of life’s most important lessons tends to receive the least amount of focus. It’s no wonder why we have so little success attracting the love, passion, romance and fun that we all need and desire.The problem for many busy and successful people is that they do not know where to find and meet the right partners, how to approach dating, or what it takes to build and sustain a healthy, loving relationship. To address these issues, I have taken a unique approach and have written this book about real people, like you, who struggle with finding love and the right companionship. Many who have used my techniques have been able to find happy rewarding relationships.This book provides real world experiences and proven dating strategies and techniques. It’s a guide that can be used to change your life and bring you the romance and love you’ve always wanted.

Charles Johnson’s Bio:

Surrounded by three sisters and eight female cousins, Charles Johnson had a significant female influence growing up. With the knowledge he gleaned from that experience, he spent the last 25 years coaching and mentoring hundreds of single professionals and up-and-coming, career-minded men and women — including his own four daughters.He found himself providing guidance to help these otherwise successful individuals improve their personal confidence by updating their image, polishing their social skills and providing insight into the art of establishing and maintaining relationships. Charles has connected and helped hundreds of couples find marriage or committed partners and coaches them on how to make relationships last.He has been married for more than 32 years and three of his four daughters are now married. Charles has found happiness and balance in his own life as well, pursuing his passions as an avid traveler, photography enthusiast, art collector and a supporter of various charitable causes. He enjoys basketball, football and tennis. His greatest passion is writing about hope and how people can achieve their dreams and still have a balanced and complete life.

Price: $19.95
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 9781937928445
Pages: 272
Release: April 24, 2012

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Book Review: Pets at the White House

Pets at the White House breaks down the last 50 years of the Presidents, Vice Presidents and their pets who resided with them in the White House.  The book is broken down in chronological order by President and features The Kennedys, Johnsons, Nixons, Fords, Carters, Reagans, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obamas.

In addition to stories about all of the pets, the book is jam packed with photos of all the pets and their owners at the White House.  A few of the dogs had puppies while in the white house and boy are those pictures cute!

I think that my favorite is the Obama’s dog Bo – but Caroline Kennedy’s horse Macaroni certainly comes in a close second.  I also remember being quite interested in the Clinton’s cat Socks back when he was president and I was in Elementary school.

Anyone looking to read up on the White House pets (probably great information if you like to do trivia tournaments) should check out this book!

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Pets at the White House provides a spectacular view into one of the most historic homes in the world and all of its four-legged, beaked, and pawed inhabitants from ponies, puppies, and cats to parakeets, sheep, and even an alligator. Interest in presidential pets has risen with the importance, power, and prestige of the American presidency. The American public has an insatiable appetite for stories of everyday life in the White House. This book brings it all to life. With charm, wit, and compelling photographs, author Jennifer Pickens reveals how pets have played an important role in the White House throughout the decades, not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by humanizing and softening their political images. The book starts with the Kennedy family and their menagerie of pets and continues through 10 administrations and more than half of a century to the Obama family and First Dog Bo. Throughout the pages are more than 200 exquisite photographs of presidents with their pets in quiet moments as well as more animated times of play, most of which have never been seen before. With a foreword by former First Lady Barbara Bush, this book has earned the devotion of the recent United States First Families, many of whom penned a unique quote for their chapters. This poignant collection of stories and photographs is a must-have for pet lovers and lovers of American history alike.

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