Monday, November 26, 2012

Business: Online Jewelry and Decoration shop: AndyBFashion is super creative!

If you're looking for cute, unique and exclusive items for your personal use or to give as gifts, check It's a site where artisans and small business artists sell their talented crafted creations. It's rare to find unique gifts lately. We tend to go to Walmart or any other big store and purchase mass merchandise, gifts with no individual value, something everyone else is going to have as well.

Glitter Collection with lots of bling! Be the star and shine!

Unique Brazilian style bangs decorated with Brazilets and hanging amulets - very unique!

That's why it's so important to support small businesses. There are so many treasures to be found when we look elsewhere. The common "made in China" gifts are so yesterday. There seems to be a movement going around to raise the awareness of the community to buy more from local and from neighbors.

Decorated Christmas craters with imported fragrance soap make great gifts!

AndyBFashion is a one of a kind, small online store inserted within etsy that makes creative and unique gifts. Lots of glitter for jewelry, including rings, earrings, key-chains and pendant necklaces. Colorful, unique and sparkly, those pieces will accentuate and accessorize any outfit.

Another specialty from AndyBFashion is decorative items. There are really nice looking hanging wood crosses with different themes to decorate any room. These crosses seem to be the best selling items of the decoration aisle - really unique, some are made with recycled cards, beads, mosaic stones and resin to give them a glossy finish.

Decorative wall hanging wood crosses look great in any room!
Check out these unique items. Support a local artisan, and give different and exclusive items - for your own fashionable self, or for your friends and family!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book: The Only Thing that Matters by Neale Donald Walsch

Book: The Only Thing that Matters by Neale Donald Walsch

What to say about this book or how to even start reviewing it? It took me a while to sit down and try to put into words what I experienced while reading the words from Mr. Walsch. Not in a bad way at all. The message is meaningful yet puzzling, common sense yet Utopian, matter of fact yet an illusion. And it sticks. And you know it's true and you believe it.

There will be no spoil alert here. I won't describe what is the only thing that matters. You need to read it to find out, which is a message  you probably already know and just need to be re-minded of. The content is different than that of any other authors who ignites in us the passion about the one subject: the law of attraction. Here, the message is being delivered in a totally casual way, as if the author is your friend and is talking to you, and in some instances, as the text implies and suggests, you feel like you are the one writing the book. It gets convoluted at times, because there's an overload of information being revealed almost all at once. But it's not discouraging. It's refreshing. It's needed. It's a spiritual voyage. You need time to absorb this message, by going back to some of the chapters and digesting it again and again. And it will make sense. And it will be the only thing that matters.

This is a book to be kept by your bedside table. And read and re-read many times until the message is clear and infused in your mind and soul like you're supposed to know. Good luck and good reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Business: Microsoft Store offers excellent customer service!

Usually, I don't buy video games or other merchandise in stores such as Microsoft or Apple, instead I tend to go to Best Buy, Game Stop or another one where you usually get points for carrying a loyalty card. However, browsing one day at the Microsoft Store in the Galleria Houston, I was pleasantly surprised.

We were looking at some upcoming video games and were going to pre-order at Best Buy because they were offering a good deal. However at Microsoft Store, the very nice and friendly associate who approached us, started to chat about video games in general and mentioned their pre-order deal: $10.00 to pre-order the game, and upon picking it up, 1600 Microsoft points (which is a $20.00 value) and another $10.00 discount valid for the purchase or to pre-order another game. She also offered 2 free coupons worth $25.00 each for us just to try the Bing/Google test, and then exchanged the $50.00 free coupon for a 1 year X-Box live membership (a $60.00 value which I paid only $10.00 for!). The fine prints? None. Pure marketing and a way to win a customer. Deal.

When I picked up the game 2 weeks later, I got the promised perks: 1600 points and $10.00 off. However, while playing the game, the disc got damaged!!! I returned to the store the next day to explain I had just purchased the game the day before and could not play it due to a malfunction. It was in fact the easiest even exchange ever. The associate simply accepted the defective merchandise back, no questions asked, didn't even open the package to make sure all was inside, and just handed me the new game. Way to keep a customer!

We just returned to the store yesterday to pick up the newest game we pre-ordered and again got all the perks: another 1600 points worth $20.00 and another $10.00 off. Very good deal, and all the associates very helpful, friendly and chatty! Great way to treat customers, Microsoft. I'm game!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Restaurants: Getting a freebie on your Birthday!

Yes, you're celebrating another wonderful year and getting younger! So why not celebrate the child you are by receiving freebies for your birthday for just signing up to a few places? And it's all free!

There are several restaurants offering something free to help you celebrate your birthday, and severalof them also have an introductory offers just for subscribing! Check out some of them on the list below - and believe me, it's free and no strings attached. You can just print the coupon you receive and bring it to the place and you will be served your freebie. What would you like on your birthday?


IHOP: join their Pancake Revolution and for signing up, you will receive an email within 24 hours for a free breakfast. Then a free breakfast email will arrive around your birthday too!


Which Wich: the sandwich chain also gives you free food! Join the Vibe Club, and as an introductory offer you will get a free sub with a purchase of a drink and chips (about $2.80) and an email for a free sub on your special day! 

Dessert and snacks for after lunch, after dinner, and in between:

La Madeleine: upon subscribing for their e-club on their website, you will receive an email for a petite Salade or cup of Soupe and they will also send you an email for a free pastry for your birthday. Delicious deal! 

Baskin Robbins:  join their birthday club on their website and get a coupon for a free scoop of ice-cream on your magical day! You will also receive coupons for other promotions throughout the year. Sweet!

Marble Slab Creamery: didn't get enough ice-cream with Baskin Robbins? Get another one from Marble Slab, and splurge on your birthday! Subscribing to their Mable Mail will get you an introductory offer for a free cone with the purchase of another one, and a free cone on your birthday!

Cinabbon: by joining Club Cinabbon you will receive a coupon for a free minibon as your welcome to the club offer, and a freebie on your birthday (a Mochallata chill drink - delicious!)


Red Robin: join their Eclub and you will receive a free burger on your birthday! 

OK, got enough free food for a day? Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in-between. So feast for free and enjoy the goods. There is no age limit for any of these deals - so celebrate the child you are!!! If you know of any other sweet deal, feel free to share on the comments session below! Have fun!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lifestyle: - a platform for doing good!

If you have a Facebook account, have you ever noticed a posting on your wall by one of your friends, stating they're passionate about a particular cause and would like you to join in their efforts? You may have disregarded it or you might have been curious enough to open the link and click on it. I hope you did, and you should. is a website created to help people like us make a difference in the world. Be it by creating a cause or participating in the awareness of a particular cause, there's always something to be done. Participation is free. You can create you own cause or a pledge, or join in any of the thousands of causes from helping feed the hunger to petitions for governments to stop cruelty or abuse to animals. There is no limit to the amount of good that can be done by building awareness and making a positive impact.

The easiest way to join Causes is through Facebook. Visit their website where you will read about real life stories of passionate people who created a cause and achieved their objective and a myriad of suggestions on how you can help. Pick a cause that talks to your heart. Choose something you're passionate about. Is it starving children? Environmental issues? Gay rights? Abused animals? Disaster relief? Education? Pediatric cancer? By just watching a short video, Dell will donate $1.00 to Pediatric Cancer Research, for example. Simple enough and powerful enough to raise a whopping $42,965 - the goal is $50,000 and I'm sure it will be met soon! 153 million people in 142 countries are part of, and 1 billion actions have been taken as a result! That's power!

It's amazing how a seemingly insignificant act can make a HUGE difference! I hope you join one of the causes. Doing good has never felt so good!

(Just on a side note, I created my own pledge on causes to bring awareness about hunger. I believe  if each one of us does our part in helping feed a starving person a day, we can make this a better world! There's abundance, we just have to share! Hope you can join it - thanks!)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Music: New Artist: Eric Mbadinga-Nzamba's debut album

New artist: Eric Mbadinga-Nzamba's debut album Continuum

There's a lot of new music to be explored and most of what we are exposed to comes from massive radio manufacturing, bombarding the waves with the same rhythms and beats which makes you wonder if you're not hearing the same music over and over non stop. There seems nothing new to listen to.

Thus, it's refreshing to find a new artist who comes up with an eclectic sound - his album is a mixture of slow beats, rock, alternative, sounds reminiscing of bossa nova and even flamenco. You don't know what to expect when you're coming upon the next track (sort of like the chocolate box concept: each chocolate is a surprise - get it?)

Each track is carefully weaved with instruments that complement Eric's mellow and soft voice in a myriad of languages that truly transforms his album into a worldly composite of great sounds and surprising beats.
Cover of Continuum, Eric's debut album

All the lyrics were composed by the artist. I was marvelously surprised by the track "Timeless" sung in Spanish, in a Flamenco style that is alive and exciting! The track just transports you to Spain - it's a great around the world sound experiment! The track "Hold on" reminded me of Metallica, not so heavy metal but enough for Eric's voice to be raspy and effective, and there's also more ballad driven, inspirational and sentimental tracks like "I'm a Daddy", which conveys the artist's own astonishment at the fatherhood adventure awaiting for him.  The catchy track "Bafana Bafana", a tribute to Africa during the last Soccer World Cup held in the continent, ends the album with a festive and winning tone.


For more information about the artist and his recording company, visit the site highlighted below. As a reward, you will be able to download a free track (for "Bafana Bafana" - the video is also available on the site as well as links to purchase the CD or the album download).

I personally know Eric and he's a delightfully positive soul - couldn't have expected anything greater coming from his creative mind and talented persona! Two thumbs up!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book: Secrets of Meditation by davidji

Secrets of Meditation, a practical guide to inner peace and personal transformation by davidji.

The first thing that called my attention when I received this book and started leafing through it was a comment most readers will miss: "The author donates all proceeds from this book to charity". How would you not want to read a book whose author is so caring and giving? It showed me that every page of this book is filled with hearty advice and a genuine desire to help the reader achieve a state of deep meditation and understand the benefits of this ancient practice.

The language is easy to follow, davidji is down to earth, engaging, and guides the readers in a very interesting path highlighting different types of meditation techniques and what to expect from each of the meditation styles. He tells his own story about his spiritual journey and illustrates it with many examples on how he achieved his proficiency in meditation.

It is the first time I read davidji and I'm hooked! It's not easy to follow a book about meditation, it becomes dull and boring at times, however, this book is exciting and inspiring! It's a great read and will really prompt you to try meditation. You can choose one that fits you better from the different kinds described in this volume: bodymind, visual, sound, energy, sensory, Buddhist, mantra and chanting meditation. Each is described in detail and each chapter explores the best technique on how to practice them, with very helpful hints and encouragement.

At the end of the book, davidji explores the myths around meditation and demystifies some beliefs about its practice, with accessible and easy to understand questions and answers.

This is a great book for those who want to start exploring the benefits of meditation and also for those who have been already practicing it. If you're serious about understanding what meditation is and how it can transform you, don't miss this jewel of inspiration and guidance to a better lifestyle!

I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lifestyle: The Meditation Podcast

Practicing meditation is a lifestyle recommended by many. Nowadays, with busy lives and no time to stop and smell the flowers, taking a few minutes of your time to relax and unwind is almost impossible. However, it is a much needed time off, bringing healthy benefits, and much welcomed by your body and mind.

Meditation is not easy to practice: to sit still for even 5 minutes may be a burden because our mind is so used to wandering and going back to thinking about our problems and lives and what to do and agendas etc. Finding a guided meditation to help you with the technique and channel you inside your own mind to concentrate on your breathing and deep relaxation is the best way to go if you're serious about spending some time on meditation.

I found The Meditation Podcast by chance, and it proved to be a great tool to deep relaxation. Those who are familiar with meditation and use the Silva method may also find this a different and more subtle way to meditate. The Meditation Podcast uses audio technology, called binaural beats, to slow the brainwaves, along with music and guided imagery, to produce a deep feeling of peaceful relaxation. The effect is similar to yoga, energy healing or a very restful sleep. You should listen to it using headphones for greater benefits when you're in a place where you won't be disturbed for a few minutes. It's also very important not to drive or multitask while meditating. This should be a time to unwind, relax and energize your body and mind and you can really do it!

The recordings are done by a couple, and both man and woman have soothing, calming and relaxing voices that help with the process.  They are not affiliated with any health care practice or religious beliefs, and their philosophy is based on the law of attraction, as you will experience on some of their guided meditations, such as my favorite one, "Positive Thoughts". There are 20 episodes on the podcast, and each one focus on a specific issue (sleeping, waking, energizing, etc). They add episodes every once in a while.

Check their site for more information, or look them up on Facebook. If you want to try meditation, this is a great tool for starters, as well as for those who are already practicing meditation through different methods or teachings.

Enjoy your peaceful time and meditate for great life benefits!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Business: Don McGill Toyota in Houston: unacceptable customer service!

If you have a Toyota and need to service it, or if you're thinking of buying a Toyota, skip Don McGill on Katy Freeway and head to Mike Calvert on 610. You will be happy even if you have to drive a few more miles for a much better customer service experience. Or choose another Toyota dealer, but by all means, don't stop at Don McGill.

My first sour experience with this dealer was a few years ago when I stopped by to shop for a new car. I was by myself, just browsing around and looking for a comfortable place to make a car purchase, where there would be no demanding sales people and no pushing. No one approached me as I strolled down the aisles looking for cars. After 20 minutes I asked for help. The man didn't seem too eager to sell, or maybe he thought I was not a potential buyer. I asked some questions about the car I was interested in, feeling he was not particularly helpful. Then he asked me if I was a single mother because I was talking about driving around with a child! My personal life is none of their business and this type of question is totally inappropriate coming from a man I've never seen before! Is this a way to try to sell a car?

Then I went to Mike Calvert Toyota where I had a much more pleasant experience, and where I ended up purchasing my Toyota. A few years later, and they still send me birthday cards with fee oil changes as a gift! Way to treat a customer.


Last week, though, a light came out on the car panel, and since I was closer to Katy Freeway, I decided to stop by Don McGill and see if they could help out identifying what was wrong with the vehicle. I parked the car and no one came to welcome me or ask what I needed. So, I went inside where there were about two service associates helping other customers. I stayed there waiting to be assisted. No one acknowledged my presence, a simple "good morning, someone will be with you shortly" would have been nice. They looked at me and continued with their business as if I was a hindrance. Then 2 more customers arrived and stayed around looking for help. After about 15 minutes, one of the associates who was helping another customer finally looked up at the 3 waiting customers and said someone would be with us shortly. Another 5 minutes until I was told to go to a man who was talking on the phone. He kept me waiting for a few minutes, finishing his call, then told me to hold and left, coming back a few minutes later to finally ask me what was the problem. I started to tell him that since that morning, a light had lit up in my panel and I wanted to see what was wrong. Without asking anything else or trying to explain what might be the problem, he just said: "you need to leave the car here until the afternoon". Really??? I told him, how long? He said, a couple of hours, until about 4 or 5 pm (it was 10 am), he said they were busy and wouldn't be able to take a look at the car until the afternoon. No further explanations. No nice solutions (would he offer me a ride home? would I have to wait there until they were able to get to the car?). I left, visibly frustrated.


And then I headed to the nearest Auto Zone. A very nice and friendly associate immediately scanned my car and gave me, in 5 minutes, the diagnostic for the yellow light in my panel, and didn't charge a penny!!!! And it was not a serious issue, but something I could fix myself.

Don McGill Toyota doesn't value customers. They won't ever get my business, ever again!

Go to instead:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Business: Gold Buying Girl Parties

One of my friends has been doing some work as a "gold buying girl" and approached me about the business, inviting me to host a gold buying party at my place. The concept is easy and simple: you throw a party for your friends and invite them to come over and bring their unwanted gold jewelry to be evaluated and possibly sold. It is sort of a "tupperware" party, however, instead of your guests coming in ready to spend money, they actually come in ready to make money. Sounds too good to be true? That's what I was thinking until I decided to give it a try.

So I planned the party and invited some friends to come over. Several people didn't make it, several didn't even respond to the invitation, and some came, somewhat skeptical about the whole concept, asking several questions about pricing and trust. We had no idea how much money would be made. One of the guests brought a bunch of unwanted gold and silver jewelry and ended up with a check for over 400 dollars. She was really excited. It was much more than she thought those pieces were worth it. She guessed she would make about 50 dollars and left with 400!

Based on the results of the first party, I decided to throw another one a month later. Some of the guests that didn't make it to the first one, after realizing there was money to be made, decided to join in the fun. So the second party was planned and the result was a total success. Based on the reality of the testimonies from the first party guests, more friends had the courage to show up bringing their unwanted jewelry and checks were issued for amounts over $1,500!!!

It's a great way to reconnect with your friends, in a relaxed, informal setting (your own home of course), and everyone leaves happy with some extra cash. There is no pressure to sell, if the piece is not worth the gold price alone or if you're too emotionally attached to it and decide not to sell, no worries. No losses either for your guests. The great thing is that the gold buying girl will buy most gold that is 10, 14, 18 and 24 K and even remove stones if the jewelry is encrusted. She can tell what karat the gold is, price it, and issue you the check right on the spot!

What are you waiting for? Want to make some money? Go take a look at your jewelry box and your drawers and collect all unwanted, broken, ugly jewelry and even dental work (wow!) that is left to collect dust and trade it for money!

The business is legitimate, no scam and nothing hidden. If you want to schedule a party, send me a comment or note through the blog and I will get you in touch with the gold buying girl! Have fun selling your gold and entertaining your friends! Let me know if you have questions about how to throw the gold buying girl party!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Food: CupCaking Desire in Austin, TX

When you visit Austin, TX, you should not miss one lovely pink trailer parked on 10812 RR 620 N next to Magnum Trailers. The owner, Lu, a very dear friend of mine, who I consider to be the most creative and talented person I've met, is also Brazilian and is a really good cook and dessert maker. 
CupCaking Desire Mobile Bakery
Here's the cutest bakery you've ever seen!
She has opened the first mobile bakery in Texas capital, and named it CupCaking Desire. Not only does she sells the most creatively decorated and delicious cupcakes you can try in Texas, but she also offers a variety of bakery items for a wonderful and unforgettable breakfast! The presentation of the baked goods is phenomenal. With her artistic background (architecture and interior decoration), she designs and creates different and unique themes for her cupcakes and lolly-cakes, a new fad of cupcakes in a stick, that can be a welcoming treat for birthdays and parties. 
Can you believe this is edible and delicious? Yummy Lolly cakes!!!

Customer service at the mobile bakery is unparalleled, and she will go to any lengths to please the most skeptical of cake lovers. Offers include also gluten free freshly baked items, really hard to find. 

Check the website and like her page on Facebook. You can also find more information on yelp.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Restaurants: Eating Vegetarian in Rio de Janeiro

Below, find three places that make up the hip scene of the vegetarian (as well as non-vegetarian) crowd.
Deliciously fresh coconuts by the beach

1. "Balada Mix": with 8 restaurants in several areas of Rio de Janeiro, you can spot some famous Brazilian people having dinner at this cool eatery (the last time I was there on a Wednesday night, I spotted 2 soccer players and a well-known comedian having dinner), as well as fashionable people and athletes having a bite after working out. The menu offers grilled and fat free meat choices and an amazing variety of salads and fresh juices and fruits, as well as delicious desserts. One of my favorites is the fig salad, a mix of wild greens with fresh fig slices and nuts in a zesty honey flavored sauce, a very vegetarian meal, accompanied with a glass of healthy, cool and hydrating coconut milk.

2. "Delírio Tropical": this is my favorite place, with also 8 locations spread throughout town. The lines during lunch time can be long, especially at the Ipanema location. The chain has their own produce plantation and distributes it to their restaurants, ensuring the food served daily is fresh and organic in all locations. The mango salad, a mix of greens and fruits with a tangy mango sauce is amazing, and the quinoa cake with nuts and passion fruit sauce is also worth trying! If you´re really hungry, get the 3 salad plate and choose from a variety of delicious options. "Delírio" also bottles their own coconut milk and offers fresh juices and other natural alternatives.

3. "New Natural": this is another vegetarian´s delight. There is only one location in the posh neighborhood of Ipanema, but the price is very affordable and you pay by weight of your plate. Lots of different empanadas, cakes, soy food, hot and cold entrees are offered in this self-service buffet restaurant. Fresh juices and coconut milk (also served fresh on the coconut, not bottled) complete the abundant variety of delicacies found at this cool spot, where you will find an interesting crowd, including those who are stopping for a bite after a nice morning sunbathing in Ipanema beach.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book: Flower Therapy - Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves

I had no idea what to expect when I received this book. I had read books talking about angels and alternative medicine and therapies before and was somewhat skeptical about the content of Flower Therapy - Welcome the Angels of Nature into Your Life.

Surprisingly, the book is amazingly light and fun to read, and it's also a beautiful volume, with high quality illustrations of 88 different flowers, highlighting their benefits and what they can do to help heal or improve a specific area of our lives.

The flowers are listed in alphabetical order, and the pictures help identify the type of plant. The correlation with the respective angel that is associated with the flower completes the description of the flower and how to utilize it for our benefit. There are also hints on how to make infusions with the flowers for different purposes and all to help clear the body, mind and spirit.

Flower Therapy: Welcome the Angels of Nature into Your Life
Cover of the book
You don't have to believe in angels to read this book. You can still find lots of interesting information about the flowers, and how to clean and energize your house and your environment, including yourself. It is an inspirational book that providers beautiful insight into the flowers and the benefits nature can provide us!

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book: Wishes Fulfilled, Dr. Wayne Dyer - read!

When I found out this book was coming out, I was immediately interested in obtaining a copy. I have read several books by Dr. Dyer and every time one of his books finds a way into my life in the exact right time, as he says, in synchronicity with the situation that I'm living.

It was with no surprise that I found Wishes Fulfilled, Mastering the Art of Manifesting, another jewel of inspiration. Full of extraordinary testimonies to the power of manifestation, the book provides fascinating insight into the law of attraction, presented in an easy to read format that flows peacefully within our minds. The examples that Dr. Dyer provides about his own life and his family's life as well as the lives of other people that come in contact with him in a synchronicity of events makes it even more interesting to relate to the teachings that are discovered in the book.

It's an enriching volume of self-discovery and we need an open mind to absorb the messages presented in this book. Wishes Fulfilled is a lesson in self-discovery, self-esteem and the magic of believing in yourself and your strength to make you create your life in the best possible way. Thanks to Dr. Dyer, it's possible to see the world in a new, encouraging and positive way. I am that I am. Believe, and manifest. Believe that with God, all things are possible.

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.