Monthly Archives: July 2013

Another Publisher Likes My Book


sunset rays

A quick update on FORTIFY MY LIFE :

When I sent my book proposal to publishers, I gave my “favorite” publishing house a 1 week head start to accept or reject FORTIFY MY LIFE. One week later, I sent the manuscript to my second choice publisher, a VERY fine and reputable publishing house. I had mentioned in my last post about the book that it is typical to have to wait 6 to 8 weeks to hear back from a publisher. Well as I had also said, Destiny Image got back to me super fast, within a day of sending in the 2nd proposal. So, I started moving forward with them, looking at the contract, talking about cover design, and ultimately signing a contract. Then, on the morning of the big money day, when I was preparing to order 2000 copies of the upcoming book, the second book company wrote me a note saying they would like to publish FORTIFY MY LIFE.

I have to say, this was an exciting and confusing moment. Of course I already knew that I would be publishing with Destiny Image’s Ambient Press label. I had already signed the contract. But, a contract offer from Creation House is very precious. It was such an honor to get the “acceptance letter”. Brook and I sat at breakfast discussing how it is a shame I can’t publish with both of them~! What a fine compliment to get that note today, and bitter-sweet to send the “regrets” reply. So, there it is: I’ve had 100% positive responses from publishing houses with regards to FORTIFY MY LIFE~! I’m glad that both of these wonderful publishers have deemed this book worth publishing.  That makes my heart flutter~!

I am now waiting to find out what the production schedule looks like for FORTIFY MY LIFE. I’m guessing it won’t get printed until next March, or even later. In the meantime, I will start talking to pastors, authors, and ministry leaders about writing endorsements. This is a bit out of my comfort zone, so say a prayer for me~!

Follow this link to read more about my writing updates~!


Have a Great Week~!


Well, here it is Monday…



Dive In~!

Go For It~!

And Have a GREAT Week~!

Dog Bellyflop Photo by Seth Casteel.

Click here to see his pet photography website.

Life Hacks – to make life easier


I saw a long list of “life hacks” the other day, and decided to look up the term on wikipedia. Seemed obvious, and I was correct: “Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way, variably a Juggaar, might be called a life hack.” (Quote from Wikipedia, Click Link to See More).

There is a whole website dedicated to life hacks. Guess what it is called….. yup, They have a huge following, so most of you have probably “been there- done that”. But, maybe not. I’m going to limit myself to including only 6 life hack photos in this post. But, I suspect I’ll post more in the future, since they can be pretty practical~!

12 13


Feel free to share some of your good tips or good website links in the comments section~! We never know which ones will stick, right?

Why I LOVE Lemons~!


lemon juice

Lemons are extraordinarily good for us~! There is a lot of talk about “SUPERFOODS” out there. Lemons are such a common fruit that many people take them for granted. Personally, I have always liked lemon; it is even my favorite smell~! But, until recently, I had no idea how amazing they are for our health. These days I am starting and ending each day with lemon water. At dinner time, I cut a WHOLE lemon (skin and all) into quarters, and throw it into the blender with 6 to 8 cups of water. Brook and I drink 6 cups between the two of us. The lemon peel is the MOST nutritious part of the lemon. “Lemon peels contain as much as 5 to 10 times more vitamins than the lemon juice itself.”  If you aren’t blending whole lemon into your water, use the zest in your cooking~!  And, I just learned today that I don’t have to cut the seeds out of the lemons before blending them into water. They have benefits, too. Here is a nice long list of health benefits of lemons & the peel. OR… you can just take my word for it, stop reading now, and consume loads of lemon~!

Vitamins: Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which is great for our immune system. Lemon peels also contain Vitamin A, beta carotene, and folate with their corresponding benefits.

Minerals: Lemons are high in potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as brain and nerve function. Magnesium and calcium in the peel contribute to bone health, also fighting osteoporosis.

Detox: Lemon juice encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract; it also helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, burping, and bloating. Lemons also help flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function, stimulating your liver. The peel can help fight cancer and eradicate toxins.

Skin: The antioxidants in lemon juice help to not only decrease skin blemishes, but wrinkles too! It can also be applied to scars and age spots to reduce their appearance, and because it’s detoxifying your blood, it will maintain your skin’s radiance.

Weight Loss: Lemons contain pectin fiber, which assists in calming hunger cravings, helping dieters to lose weight.

Inflammation: If you drink lemon water on a regular basis, it will decrease the acidity in your body. Acidic body conditions are the the roots of many diseases. Lemon removes acid in your joints, which is one of the main causes of inflammation.

Calm Energy: Lemon juice provides your body with energy when it enters your digestive tract. It also helps reduce anxiety and depression. Even the scent of lemon has a calming effect on your nervous system. I have replaced my morning coffee with lemon water, and I don’t even miss the coffee. I was sure I would.

Anti-viral: Warm lemon water is the most effective way to diminish viral infections and sore throats. Plus, with the immune system boost, you’re already fighting infections.

Heart & Cholesterol: Lemon peels also help lower bad cholesterol and keep blood clean (think heart health~!).

The print “Le repêcheur de pépins” is for sale CLICK HERE.  This artist has the little man (Jack of all trades) doing all sorts of bizarre tasks. This series is fun and collectable. This is a very fun ETSY shop~!


11 Benefits of Lemon Water :

Lemon peel is the cheapest investment in your health:

Eat the Seeds:


They Want to Publish My Book~!


grunge basement office

I have just found out that my favorite publishing house would like to publish my book~!

To a first time author, this is a very big deal~! I am exited, amazed, and terrified all at the same time. I was warned to expect rejection letter after rejection letter. I spent a very long time writing a top notch book proposal. Still, I was pretty anxious when I finally clicked the “submit” button to send my book proposal off to the publisher. I didn’t tell anyone (Brook was a bit bummed out about that).  I didn’t want to think about the agony of the wait on a daily basis, and then share that I had gotten rejections (though surely I’d have told Brook about that~!).

The wait time to hear back from a publisher is generally 6 to 8 weeks. So, I was stunned to hear back from this publisher in a week~! I love this company, Destiny Image Publishers. I told them how their books influence my life, and their cover design makes my soul sing. I had given them a 1 week head start to want my book because it was my dream to get published by these guys. I now have a signed contract with them.

At the moment the working title of the book is:


40 Fortifications for the 

Heart & Mind & Body & Spirit 

Designed to Strengthen Lives and Activate Destinies

But, that could change. It is likely to be at least 6 months until the book is finally printed. Although Destiny Image will be publishing the book, it will be printed under their Ambient Press Imprint. I can’t wait to hold the finished product in my hands. It has a great purpose to bring Heaven to earth, to fortify hearts and souls, and to launch people into their destinies. I know that sounds immodest. The truth is, this book is really great. I can’t believe I get to be a part of it. God is Awesome~!

Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

My publisher: Destiny Image, and  Ambient Press

Book proposal resources: Writing-a-winning-book-proposal, by Michael Hyatt

Follow this link to read more about my writing updates~!

Is My Back Pain My Own Fault?


strong man and pig postcardI am one of the millions or zillions of people who have a back ache, or can get one easily by lifting or twisting awkwardly.

It would be easy enough to blame the heavy box, or the pillow, or the mattress, or the garden,, the car… or…. or…. you get the picture, blame anything possible. But, I suspect I am really the root of this back problem. Maybe you are young, and thinking back aches are for older people, and this blog post is not for you. But, you read on too. NOW is the time to take care of your back, because back aches aren’t for older people either. Many of us actually CAN do something about the condition of our backs, even if they seem irretrievable. I’ve gotten sick of the back problem, and I’m doing something about it. I’m already starting to feel better, and it has only been about 5 days or reclaiming my rights to my own back.

I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty here, for example my husband has a bad back as a result of a car accident. He broke his spine completely in half, and is paraplegic. But even with a seriously messed up spine, he does everything he can to make sure to keep his body strong and healthy. He is an amazing example to me. He rode a hand crank bicycle 20 miles today. Given what each individual has to work with, we have to do our part to get or keep ourselves as healthy as we can be. Often as we start down this road, we soon learn that we have access to better health than we had formerly believed possible~! Be encouraged~! Catch a strong wind of motivation, and take it to the next level.

Recently, I’ve been waking up with a back ache. I get up an hour early, unable to take staying in bed any longer. Of course that would lead me to believe that my bed is to blame, but that probably isn’t the whole story. Actually, the bed I have is a top recommended mattress for conditions like back pain and arthritis. I just bought it 6 months ago thinking my OLD mattress was causing my back pain. That didn’t solve the problem. Bummer~!

Fed up, I ended up on the Healthy Back Institute website (AKA:, and found lots of information that made more sense than killing myself with ibuprophen. I watched some of their videos, and found out that my hips are sinking too far into the mattress. This tends to be true of almost all mattresses (even my tempurpedic) , since humans are generally heavier in this area. A simple solution: I can put a folded towel under my middle, and my spine will tweak a bit less while I am sleeping. I also learned some specific stretches for lower back pain. They have videos about neck pain, sciatica, and more. I’ll be watching more of these videos over time.

I posted a blog last year about doing more core strengthening exercises “Being Spineless“. I would like to inform you that I have developed the habit of doing some of these. But, I need to go farther. Five minutes a day ins’t quite enough. The time that I am spending sitting so much of the day has to be counter-balanced.

While clicking some links on the Back Institute website, I came upon the best lower back pain stretching & strengthening routine I have encountered to date. Just exactly what I needed. It has me quite excited. I plan on having a stronger back in the upcoming weeks and months~! Here’s a link: Great Lower Back Relief Video. If you like this instructor, you can search for more exercises by her specifically. She sure looks fit. It turns out that youtube is a great resource, so do other searches, too~! NOW… remember, you aren’t likely to feel the full benefit of exercise right away. AND… avoid the temptation to do the routine 5 times the first three days. Don’t hurt yourself by stretching as far as you USED to be able to stretch a while ago. (I make this mistake every time; that’s why I’m saying this.) You’ll get back in shape soon enough if you stick with it~!

Hey… recommend more links and resources for back pain relief in our comments section, please~!

(The postcard art in the picture above is for sale at: La Cabane En Voyage. I love this image~! It makes me smile.)

Health Food~! Chocolate Nut Ganache


Choco-Nut-Ganache-600YES… more proof that God is good~!

Healthy chocolate anything is seriously cool by me~!

AND… Guilt Free~! Oh, and it looks like a no baking recipe (aka: raw), too. Seriously, this is like a superfoods version of a snickers bar. YUM~! I can see taking the basic ideas of this recipe, and making the parts into all kinds of treats. But here is the full recipe, and a link to the site where I got it, in case you want to know more about the ingredients:

If you’re in the mood for a dessert recipe that isn’t full of unhealthy fats and sugars but still makes your mouth water, this Chocolate Nut Ganache is for you. Loaded with antioxidants and packed with deliciousness, this nutty, chocolaty ganache will satisfy your sweet tooth and make you the life of the party – if you want to share it! Link to recipe site, Sunfood Superfoods.


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Ganache and Nut Filling:

Blend into a smooth chocolate ganache and add the following whole or chopped nuts:
1/3 cup each: walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts

Cashew & Cacao Swirl:


Step 1: Press crust into 9 inch pie pan
Step 2: Add Ganache and nut filling
Step 3: Use spoon to swirl cashew/cacao mix over the top
Step 4: Chill and serve.

– See more at:

Sprouts and Micro-Greens = Affordable Superfood Nutrition


A big bowl full of sprouts.

I really would like to eat right, wouldn’t you?

I find that each year, I make small shifts and adjustments toward a healthier lifestyle with a focus on what I put into my body. I think that on some level we create our own health. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that there are other variables, but I will always believe that we PARTICIPATE greatly in our physical, mental, and spiritual health. I have been reading about and incorporating “superfoods” into my diet. But, some of them are expensive…. and it seems like those expensive ones get a lot of press, while the ordinary ones often get a bit less attention. With that in mind, I would like to say a few things about sprouts, which can be easily grown in your closet or counter-top for pennies a day goodness~!

The basic idea is this:

Sprouts are baby plants and vegetables. It turns out that the nutritional profile of these babies prove them to be significantly more nutritious than their grown-up version. Who Knew? I didn’t~! They are chock full of protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and even chlorophyll. I was quite surprised to learn that there all all kinds of sprouts, and that the different kinds have different flavors. Like mustard~! Guess what…. they taste like a slightly spicy mustard, but without all the salt and preservatives. Then there are radish sprouts. Ok… guess again. Yup…. like radishes, but with twice the calcium, and 39 times the Vitamin A of a mature radish. Clover and alfalfa sprouts are mild, and can blend with anything. Beet spouts are RED~! I haven’t found a source of those yet, but totally want to grow some~! (Send me a link if you know where to get some, please~!) Broccoli sprouts are a great anti-inflammatory food. (One Source: SUPERFOOD KITCHEN, by Julie Morris, page 36).

Sprouts are so easy to grow that we should actually be embarrassed if we buy them~! I say that laughing, but in a way it is true. Look at that photo up top. I grew all of that from 2 big tablespoons of seeds. It took about 5 days. All I did was soak the seeds overnight, then rinse them twice a day,  let them sit on my kitchen counter near the sink, and let them get more light on the last day. Simple as that. Then I rinsed away the hulls. There are many youtube videos on this, too, if you like a more visual instruction. Now, in the photo below, I have grown micro-greens. I have these seeds planted in soil. They sit on a window sill. I have to water them every 2 or 3 days. But, they require little care, and then when the individual shapes of the leaves emerge, scissor them down, and sprinkle them over salad or… well…. anything. The baby leaves have so much flavor, you can tell they are abounding with healthy nutrition. We let these grow for 3 weeks. I think we could have harvested them sooner. Oh… this mix has 17 different kinds of seeds. Isn’t that crazy cool~! Wanna know where I got this mix?  Yes, of course you do~! Sprout People Website, the mix is Bruno’s Indoor Garden. I also go to Got Sprouts Website. I’m not the expert; I’m an enthusiast. These links can get you more information, and I’ll add more recipes over time.

Oh…. what do you do with sprouts? Do you have other good sprout resources? Please…. Add comments~! I love that.

Home grown micro greens.

Far From Home: When I Joined Peace Corps Africa


Peace Corps Africa

My blog host (WordPress) has a list called “Daily Prompts“.

These are ideas to inspire blog post topics. I wasn’t looking for the prompt, it found me while I was looking for something else. The topic? “Far From Home; Where have you gone that is far from home”. Man, that took me back in time~! I thought of all the amazing places I have been, and recalled the years prior to these explorations, when I had been so hungry for travel. In one of those hungry phases, I spontaneously filled out an application to join the Peace Corps. It wasn’t a life plan of mine. I just wanted to see more of the world. Well, about 8 months later, I got a call from the recruiter. There would be an assignment opening up in Niger, West Africa. Would I like to go? Well, I gulped, thought about it for a few days, said “YES“, and then hopped on a plane approximately 2 months after that.

Landing in Niger was like getting hit with a blow dryer while standing in an oven. Hot and dry. The landscape is Sub-Sahanan Desert. Think of photos of Ethiopia, and you have the general idea. I stayed there for 2 years. Some of the work I did involved health and nutrition lessons in an all girl’s school. We also had hopes of training these young ladies how to hand-craft all kinds of things as micro-business entrepreneurs. I found the people of Niger to be lighthearted and hospitable. It was a thoroughly amazing experience. I also got to travel to Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Egypt while I was on that continent.

The photo on the top right is my Peace Corps ID…. circa 1998-1990. The photo on the right is from when my Mom came to visit me. She was amazing~! She dove right in, ate the weird food, rode a camel, carried babies strapped on her back, applied make-up to the village girls while holding up a mirror so they could see themselves. We had our feet henna’d. The pattern on Mom’s feet was called zigga-zagga. Wonder how they came up with that name? C’est bizarre….we spoke both Zarma and French in my town (Dosso).

I have been home for 30 years (Imagine that~!), and Peace Corps Niger has left a big mark on my life and my heart. I ended up starting my own hand-crafted micro-business, Hayden Brook Studios. My husband and I make colorful glass jewelry as our primary source of income. You can see the amazing colors of the West African clothing all over our design lines. But beyond that, I still have a heart for helping these far off nations. If I can’t GO, I can still participate~! Brook and I host a website for our ministry called “The Gift List“. It informs and raises funds for amazing projects in these far away places. Just last month Brook and I bought cook stoves for 2 families in Peru~! How awesome to be able to help out like this~! Makes us feel good. And, because we know the person who builds the stoves, we know that ALL of our money is going toward stoves, and not helping some random CEO to get fat off of donations~!

NOW…. Your turn: where have YOU gone….. OR what donations catch your heart? Or, tell me how cute I was when I was 20 pounds lighter and 30 years younger~!

Learning to Fly – Eagle Camera



Brook and I have been tuning in to the Live Eagle Camera lately.

It is fun to leave it on in the background of my computer while I am working. I’ll look up as I hear the Mom eagle swoop in with a whole fish. She looks so gentle as she feeds it to her babies. Part of what is interesting to me is that I never think of eagles as being maternal creatures. I never think of them as fledgling babies either. So as I watch these 3, I am gaining a new perspective, and breaking stereotypes. I am also learning that this majestic animal has a humble beginning (gotta start somewhere), and a softer side (don’t let being amazing conflict with being gentle, kind, and nurturing). Below, I have also included a very popular Bible verse which mentions eagles. It promises that those who hope in God will soar~! Even people who are broken down will get renewed (made new) again when they trust the Everlasting Creator.

Sounds good to me~! Soaring sounds like a blast~!

Bald Eagle Mom nursing chicks

Now is a good time to tune in, since the baby eagles are just starting to flap their wings a bit these days. Click here to link to the Eagle Camera~!

Bible passage from Isaiah 40: 28-31

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

PS – Keep me posted about other baby animal cameras. We like to follow them. ADD COMMENTS……