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Eternally Grateful

November 26, 2010

This Thanksgiving I am so thankful for a family that is both fun and funny… and so eternally grateful that only one photo just would not do…!! Can you say continuous shutter, anyone…??

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Family Thanksgiving 2010, posted with vodpod

Join Mortal Muses for the first “We Are Thankful” blog hop with the muses. We will be linking up to our personal blogs, where we will share our thoughts on the day.

Haul-idays Giveaway from Chronicle Books

November 12, 2010

Have you finished your holiday shopping? Have you even begun? Books make the best gifts, especially for families and children. If you love books and love to win, then be sure to celebrate the Haul-idays with Chronicle Books.

Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books

Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books

I’ve posted a list of Chronicle Books valued at up to $500 that I’d like to haul in and if I do then one of you readers who comments on this post will win the list from Chronicle Books too!

My picks are fun family kinds of books that all ages of boys and girls would love to hear, see, and read. So, go ahead, follow the links and check out my selections for a great list of children’s books for the kids on your holiday list this year!

Be sure and leave a comment for your chance to win my choices if I win the Chronicle haul!

Bird Songs Bible
Edited by Les Beletsky
 Featuring audio sounds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
From the best-selling Bird Songs series comes the most comprehensive bird book ever published. Bird Songs Bible covers the sights and sounds of every single breeding bird in North America—nearly 750 in all. This utterly …    MORE

The Small Object: Today Is Super Journal
By Sarah Neuburger
Complete with an adorable sticker sheet to track the journaler’s moods and progress, this colorful journal will keep writers on track and smiling all day. …    MORE

Day & Night
By Teddy Newton
Day meets Night and Night meets Day in this delightful picture book based on the Pixar short, Day & Night, which premiered with Toy Story 3 in 2010. Kids will delight in the way these two characters explore their …    MORE

The Story of Little Red Riding Hood
By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm 
Illustrated by Christopher Bing
From the Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of Casey at the Bat comes a rich and exquisitely crafted edition of one of the best-known tales by the Brothers Grimm. Christopher Bing captures the light and darkness—as well as the …    MORE

Out of Sight
By Pittau & Gervais
In this big, beautiful, astonishing book, more than 50 animals are hiding. In elegant drawings and graphic, eye-catching layouts, Out of Sight will enthrall children with the amazing variety of the animal kingdom. …    MORE

In My Forest
By Sara Gillingham 
Illustrated by Lorena Siminovich
Turn the colorful die-cut pages of this irresistible board book to discover just what makes little deer’s forest so cozy. Is it the fluffy snow? No, it’s their loving families! Bright pictures, sweet reassuring messages, unique layered …    MORE

The First Christmas
By Anthony Knott
 Illustrated by Maggie Kneen
The perfect stocking stuffer! This unique version of the first Christmas story is just right for snuggling and sharing around the tree. Lavish illustrations, eye-catching foil, and a sweet pocket-size format make each reading extra …    MORE

Eight Winter Nights
By Laura Krauss Melmed
 Illustrated by Elisabeth Schlossberg
Moishe’s Miracle author Laura Krauss Melmed and illustrator Elisabeth Schlossberg celebrate Hanukkah in joyful action rhymes, festive poems, and exuberant scenes of family life. From traditional holiday foods to the story of the …    MORE


Port-a-Pug has all the perks and benefits of real dog ownership without the exhausting cleanup or the expensive upkeep. Easy to assemble, easy to transport, difficult not to adore. 

• Certificate of Adoption…   

The Sounds of Star Wars®
By J. W. Rinzler
 Foreword by Ben Burtt
Any Star Wars fan can mimic Darth Vader’s voice or Chewbacca’s roar with ease. But how many of them would be able to identify the lion’s roar used in the sound of the Millenium Falcon’s engine? In this aurally astonishing and visually …    MORE

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Junior Edition Boxed Set
By David Borgenicht,
Justin Heimberg,
and Robin Epstein
Boxed set includes:
• The Original Junior Edition
• Extreme Junior Edition
• Weird Junior Edition …    MORE

The Sock Monkey & Friends Kit
By Samantha Fisher
 and Cary Lane
Transform stray socks into stuffed-animal friends with this utterly cute craft kit! Featuring step-by-step instructions for 9 unique sock creatures—including a cat, bear, pig, rabbit, elephant, and even a crocodile—plus basic …    MORE

Create Your Own Planet
From Planet Color by Todd Parr
Create a world unlike any other with this one-of-a-kind jumbo coloring book. Best-selling illustrator and author Todd Parr takes kids on a quirky, inspiring journey through a planet they create. With the help of stickers and wacky …    MORE

By Suzy Lee
A dark attic. A light bulb. An imaginative little girl. 

Internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee uses these simple elements to create a visual tour de force that perfectly captures the joy of creative play and celebrates …    MORE

Classic Horse Stories
Compiled by Christina Darling
From Black Beauty to Pegasus, few animals inspire as much devotion and delight as horses. This collection has something for the horse-lover in everyone, including favorite horses in fiction, true stories of real horses, and a guide to …    MORE

Other Goose
Retold and Illustrated by J.otto Seibold
It’s Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, Jack Be Nimble, Miss Muffet, Little Boy Blue, and more, like you’ve never seen them before! Renowned artist J.otto Seibold re-nursuries and re-rhymes over the Mother Goose classics in this must-have …    MORE

The Story of Snow
By Mark Cassino
 with Jon Nelson, Ph.D.
How do snow crystals form? What shapes can they take? Are no two snow crystals alike? These questions and more are answered in this visually stunning exploration of the science of snow. Perfect for reading on winter days, the book features …    MORE

Creature ABC
By Andrew Zuckerman
An elegant addition to any library, this deluxe alphabet book features 120 pages of Andrew Zuckerman’s breathtaking wildlife photography. From alligator to zebra, each featured animal boasts two striking studio portraits against a …    MORE

Lullaby Baby
Illustrated by Audrey Ficociello
Every new parent, whether musical or not, needs a good repertoire of lullabies. Filled with 50 classic songs, this beautiful, lavishly illustrated songbook features an on-board sound module that lets parents learn each song as they sing …    MORE

Moleskine Folio Squared Book A4

This new Squared Book A4 offers a wide squared pages to be filled with projects and writings. 100 g/m2 acid free paper. 
Folio is a new, top quality collection, dedicated to creativity, free expression and design. 
The Folio Collection …    MORE

Leave a comment and let me know if these are the books to fill your holiday list!

One blogger and one commenter on the winning post will each WIN the list!
Winners will be announced on December 13th!

Official rules

Toilets on the Lawn

October 29, 2010
Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

I’ve been stuck in the 60s for months now.

It all began with the release of Deborah Wiles’ Countdown, the 1st book in her highly anticipated Sixties Trilogy. My strongest recollections of the 60s begin as a 10 year-old around 1964 so I was enchanted to follow Franny’s story as a 11 year-old in 1962. The documentary novel brought back so many memories and immediately I had to have more

This Means War by Ellen Wittlinger

This Means War by Ellen Wittlinger

I then buzzed through Ellen Wittlinger’s This Means War! continuing my passion for juvenile and young adult fiction. But soon I was in need of some more grown-up material.  I knew it was time to try out the hit series Mad Men on AMC.

In anticipation of the new fall television season, I reviewed a synopsis of Season One and watched highlighted episodes from Seasons Two and Three.  I felt ready as I began following the series when Season Four premiered. I soon realized I was not ready, in my heart, for the rush of fear and pain that the conflicts of the sixties returned to my emotional being. But I continued my rapidly developing addiction, at a loss to describe my discomforts that watching Man Men revived.

And then my daughter suggested The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s first novel. Set in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi, the book carried me through the remembrances of injustice and discrimination of the time. Did hurtful feelings return? Yes. Was I fearful? Yes. However could I find parts of this humorous? I did and you will too. And was it embarrassing? Horrifyingly so.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

So embarrassed I was that someone might notice the cover but not already know the story should question me as racist, I kept the cover hidden as I read for 10 hours on the train.

Stockett was embarrassed too as she explains in a Today Show interview. “”I’m so embarrassed to admit this … it took me 20 years to really realize the irony of the situation that we would tell anybody, ‘Oh, she’s just like a part of our family,’ and that we loved the domestics that worked for our family so dearly, and yet they had to use the bathroom on the outside of the house.”

In The Help, bathrooms are a highly sensitive subject as are courage and independence. The power of a determined woman is also paramount to the story as three such women become unexpected companions in search of answers to the problems of their time. And it all revolved around the use of the bathroom.

But it was not just their time. Struggles for fairness and equality still exist today in our personal and business lives for people in many communities. Let’s just hope we don’t, as Skeeter did, have to resort to toilets on the lawn to be allowed to live and let live and love everybody too.

I didn’t want The Help to end as badly as I wished the segregation would. And as Mad Men has certainly brought back to light many of the discrepancies and disparities of the 1960s one thing stands true. As has been shared by other Bathroom Blogfest bloggers in the Mad Men Theme Song – With a Twist on YouTube,

“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return”


Stuck in the 60s

Logo design by Susan Abbott

Perspectives Reflect Universality of Bathrooms with Mad Men Twist

Kinnelon, NJ – The 2010 Bathroom Blogfest, now in its fifth year, brings together 33 bloggers from the U.S., Canada, the UK and India to address the 2010 Mad Men inspired theme “Stuck in the 60s?”  A blogfest brings together writers who direct their blog posts around a single subject while making the subject relevant to their readers during a specific timeframe.  Between October 25 and 29, these experts in marketing, customer experience and service, public relations, library sciences, museums, home & interior design, life, retail, flooring and healthcare IT/RTLS will call attention to improving the overall bathroom experience for end users via their 40 blogs during Bathroom Blogfest 2010.

“This year’s theme “Stuck in the 60s?” is inspired by Mad Men, the show that has captured the imaginations of many for its portrayal of life in the 60s when social and cultural taboos meant that many critical aspects of life – like bathrooms – were ignored, glossed over and treated dreadfully,” said Christine B. Whittemore, who manages the Bathroom Blogfest. “The result is that end users suffered. By calling attention to modern day instances that are “Stuck in the 60s?”, we can reinforce the value associated with being more responsive to the end user experience be those users customers, clients, patients, patrons or consumers,” said the chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now, Kinnelon, N.J.

The Bathroom Blogfest began in 2006 as the brainchild of Stephanie Weaver, Experienceology author and consultant, and Susan Abbott, a business consultant and consumer researcher in Toronto. “They wanted to generate awareness for bloggers passionate about the customer experience at a time when blogging was more experimental.  The Bathroom Blogfest created a forum for focusing on spaces that are not a subject of conversation, even though they should be,” added Whittemore. “As an event it builds relationships and conversations about the user experience demonstrating how universal the relevance and appeal is regardless of the industry.”  Participation in the 2010 Bathroom Blogfest has increased 65% compared to 2009.

Bathroom Blogfest 2010 Participants:

Susan Abbott – @susanabbott
Customer Experience Crossroads

Paul Anater – @Paul_Anater
Kitchen and Residential Design

Shannon Bilby – @shannonbilby
My Big Bob’s Blog
From The Floors Up
Big Bob’s Outlet
Dolphin Carpet Blog
Carpets N More Blog

Toby Bloomberg – @TobyDiva
Diva Marketing

Laurence Borel – @ blogtillyoudrop
Blog Till You Drop

Bill Buyok – @AventeTile
Avente Tile Talk Blog

Jeanne Byington – @ jmbyington
The Importance of Earnest Service

Becky Carroll – @ bcarroll7
Customers Rock!

Marianna Chapman – @ResultsRev
Results Revolution

Katie Clark – @practicalkatie
Practical Katie

Valerie Fritz – @Awarepoint
The Awarepoint Blog

Nora DePalma – @noradepalma
American Standard’s Professor Toilet
O’Reilly/DePalma: The Blog

Leigh Durst – @LivePath
LivePath Experience Architect Weblog

Iris Garrott – @circulating
Checking In and Checking Out

Tish Grier – @TishGrier
The Constant Observer

Renee LeCroy – @ReneeLeCroy
Your Fifth Wall

Joseph Michelli
Dr. Joseph Michelli’s Blog

Veronika Miller – @Modenus
Modenus Blog

Arpi Nalbandian – @TileEditor
TILE Magazine Editor Blog

Maria Palma – @mariapalma
People 2 People Service

Reshma Bachwani Paritosh
The Qualitative Research Blog

David Polinchock – @Polinchock
Polinchock’s Ponderings

David Reich – @davidreich
My 2 Cents

Victoria Redshaw & Shelley Pond – @scarletopus
Scarlet Opus Trends Blog

Sandy Renshaw – @purplewren
Purple Wren
Around Des Moines

Bethany Richmond
The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog

Bruce Sanders

Steve Tokar
Please Be Seated

Carolyn Townes – @SpiritWoman26
Becoming a Woman of Purpose

Stephanie Weaver – @experienceology

Christine B. Whittemore – @cbwhittemore
Flooring The Consumer
Simple Marketing Blog
The Carpetology Blog

Ted & Christine B. Whittemore
Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog

Linda Wright
LindaLoo Build Business With Better Bathrooms

For more information about the blogfest, visit

Follow Bathroom Blogfest on Twitter @BathroomBlogfes, look for the tag “#BathroomEXP” on flickr,, Technorati, Twitter and Google or ‘Like’ on Facebook.

Or, contact Whittemore at

when nature creates

January 5, 2010
when nature creates

when nature creates

it is up to me to pause, experience, consider the possibilities she offers and then share…

all I had to do was get up, get out, and ignore the cold to find the joy!

a skillet of cornbread

January 2, 2010
a skillet of cornbread

a skillet of cornbread

2009 was a year spent watching and waiting.  2010 will be filled with creativity and hope and progress.

I’ll tell you more in the coming weeks but for now, please know, the stories tonight were humorous instead of grieving.  Whew, I feel better already!

A Hospital’s Hand-y Hygiene Hint

October 29, 2009

We have had a lot of fun this past week celebrating Bathroom Blogfest. Bloggers from around the globe have written about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience and shared many different points of view. I can imagine also that our customers appreciate when we offer an easy solution to their need to go… when all they need to go do is wash their hands!

Just when are the common sense times to clean our hands? Examples according to the Soap and Detergent Association: after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing into our hands, before food preparation and when we eat, after changing diapers, after petting your dog or cat, and after taking out the trash.

So your customers may not be taking out the trash but I wonder if they might see you, the proprietor, do that or maybe even pet the cat? And just sometimes, it is not completely convenient for our customers to have to go, all the way to the restroom, to take care of a little hand cleanup. Now of course, you can imagine that.

A perfect example of how to help everyone have clean hands is often set by hospital staff. In particular, how about these rapping nurses in Boston hospitals where creative hand-washing campaigns have recently launched?

Make your customer’s experience simple and safe. Of course you need a glorious bathroom facility. But your patrons will thank you profoundly when the hand sanitizer is readily available and easily found.

Thank you Kaboom, for your inaugural sponsorship and a very special thanks to C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer and Simple Marketing Blog for your outstanding leadership of a most successful event!

You’ve Got a Mystery on Your Hands

October 26, 2009

Youve got a mystery on your hands

You've got a mystery on your hands

H1N1 may be a Novel Virus but separate the Fiction from the Non-Fiction and get the facts. Hand washing prevents the spread of germs.  Encourage your customers and staff with these helpful hand washing posters available from Yale University Emergency Management.

BB_2009-200x320-button Improve your customer experience by following the 2009 Bathroom Blogfest posts on their Facebook Fan Page and via Twitter @BathroomBlogfes to “Flush The Recession & Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces”.

Flush The Recession & Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces

October 19, 2009

From Behind Closed Doors, Writers Direct Their Expertise to the Topic as
BATHROOM BLOGFEST 2009 Welcomes Its First Sponsor

BB_2009-logo-300x562 Kinnelon, NJ – The 2009 Bathroom Blogfest, now in its fourth year, brings together 20 bloggers from the U.S., Canada, the UK and India posting on some aspect of the theme: “Flush the Recession and Plunge Into Forgotten Spaces.” A blogfest gathers writers who direct their posts around a single subject while making the subject relevant to their readers. Between October 26 and 28, these experts in marketing, customer experience and service, public relations, library sciences, life, retail—toilets and bathrooms—will call attention to improving the overall bathroom experience.

Kaboom, the Blogfest’s first sponsor, will play a part in some of the blogs,” said Christine Whittemore, who manages the Blogfest. “The brand is adventuresome and innovative, volunteering to take its chances with this social networking experience,” said the chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now, Kinnelon, N.J. “Kaboom has sent its cleaning products to nine writers whom we expect to report on their findings. Some may also add Kaboom giveaways/contests to their coverage.”

Along with a sponsor, Whittemore added to this year’s initiative a Facebook Fan Page and way to keep up via Twitter @BathroomBlogfes. In addition, to monitor the conversation, photos and posts, look for the tag #ladiesrooms09 on flickr,, Technorati, Twitter and Google.

The Bathroom Blogfest began in 2006 as the brainchild of Stephanie Weaver, Experienceology author and consultant, and Susan Abbott, a business consultant and consumer researcher in Toronto. “They wanted to generate awareness for bloggers passionate about the customer experience at a time when blogging was more experimental. The Bathroom Blogfest created a forum for focusing on spaces that are not a subject of conversation, which they should be,” added Whittemore.

Whittemore believes that today’s bloggers do it because it’s fun and they feel strongly about sharing their ideas for better bathroom experiences. She observes that retailers ignore the bathroom as a possible selling space and that most ignore it altogether. One of the bloggers added that it’s a way for her to potentially create more impact than she might with a single post while it introduces her readers to both a new subject and community of bloggers.

KABOOM-Blogfest-Sponsor-Logo-transparentFor more information about the blogfest visit or contact Whittemore at cbwhittemore AT SimpleMarketingNow DOT com. For information about Kaboom, visit

Participating bloggers for the Bathroom Blogfest ’09 include:

• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
• Reshma Anand at Qualitative Research Blog
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog
• Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
• Maria Palma at People To People Service
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog
• David Reich at My 2 Cents
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
• C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer and Simple Marketing Blog
• Linda Wright at Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms

America Chooses to Change

November 5, 2008

Dreams have been realized.  Fears did not materialize.  Barack Obama has been elected the next President of the United States.  And today, it feels so very good.

WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR poster on flickr by springhill2008 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR poster on flickr by springhill2008 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

I was in the fourth grade when I first became aware that there was supposed to be a difference in black people and white people.  Little Michael Morris joined our classroom at Longfellow Elementary that year after Dunbar Colored School in Mayfield was closed and our classes were integrated by court order.

I remember how small and quiet and scared he looked as he took his seat in the row next to mine.  His eyes never left his desk.  Thankfully, that allowed me not have to meet his glance since I was sure staring.

I was so curious with wonder at what made this sweet little boy with downcast eyes and dark skin different from me?  Must have been something I couldn’t see.  But different he was, I had been told.  My parents had instructed me to leave him alone.  “You just don’t need to talk to him,” my mom and dad had warned.

Good girl that I was, I obeyed.  It made me feel bad inside, though, until one day he looked up and finally, together, we smiled.  After all, another thing that Daddy and Mama had taught me was to always live by the Golden Rule.

That is all I recall of him as my classmate after that time.  Our smiles.

During the years that followed I believed that perhaps I had dreamed that awful mandate to not speak to the black child.  My father proudly introduced me to black friends of his when I joined him on daily excursions around town.  I realized then that life sure was full of interesting contradictions and surprises.

I loved going with Daddy to the little market on the other side of town or to the uptown courthouse and post office.  It made me feel special to meet and greet all different kinds of folks outside of my regular church and school groups.

As I entered high school, I had many black classmates but not any that I could call friends.  As I planned my 16th birthday party and made out a guest list my parents questioned me about each name they didn’t recognize.  “Now, just who is this Don Tharpe?” they asked.

“Oh,” I said proudly, “he is president of the senior class.”  More details were needed for their satisfaction and when they learned that he was black he was instantly nixed from my list.  I was hurt, humiliated and heartbroken.  This contradiction horribly surprised me.

The last time I checked up on Don Tharpe, he was receiving the 2005 Murray State University Distinguished Alumnus award as president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C.  I would love to shake his hand today.

As I recalled these memories during the last week, I could hardly imagine that there was hope for change in America on Election Day.

But now, I believe, that we can hold these truths self evident, that all men are created equal. We now must continue to pray for peace with liberty and justice for all.

the old Moon in the new Moons arms photo on flickr by circulating  / Iris Shreve Garrott - Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike

the old Moon in the new Moon's arms photo on flickr by circulating / Iris Shreve Garrott - Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike

Who Will You Vote For?

November 3, 2008

So.  Just for a few moments.  Imagine you can see inside these homes.

Watch the elderly lady who lives alone waiting for a ride to her doctor’s appointment today.

See the child who struggles to make a good grade in school this year.

Worry about the family whose dad got laid off last month.

Rejoice with the mother of three who finally got her GED.

Wonder at the smiles on the faces of the teenage couple, just married, about to become parents next spring.

Photo by Kittie55  / Kittie McMillan © All rights reserved

Photo slide-show by Kittie55 / Kittie McMillan © All rights reserved

Be fearful of the temptations of dependence, depression and thievery that haunt the safety and security of neighborhoods like these every week.

Please click on this amazing photo, shared on flickr by Kittie McMillan, for anothe view of the Shotgun Houses slide-show.

Imagine you can see the people inside these homes.

Then consider, if you will, how Election 2008 will truly affect them.  And finally, make sure you remember someone besides yourself when you vote on November 4.

I know that is what my daddy would have wanted me to do.