Emperor Penguin – Behind The Curtain

By Lisa Mychols
Mychols Fabulous Playground – (MFP)

Meet Emperor Penguin! These are four fabulous friends of mine whose music I am positively and absolutely in LOVE with! The boys agreed to be interviewed by me, and so I prepared my questions to be as well thought out, and as entertaining, as they could be.

And now….I introduce you to….a peek Behind The Curtain interview with….Emperor Penguin!

🎶 MFP: First off, who are ALL the official members of Emperor Penguin and what roles do you/they have in the band?

JT: “Neil – Noddy Holder, Nigel – Dave Hill, Rich – Don Powell, JT – Jim Lea”

Nigel: “Neil – guitar, vocals, keyboards; Nigel – guitar, lead guitar, bass, vocals; Rich – drums, piano, JT – guitar, lead guitar, bass, vocals”

Neil: “Rich – drums, piano, making things shorter; JT – vocals, bass, guitar, tractor maintenance; Nigel – guitar, vocals, design, general responsibility for increasing guitar volume at all times; Neil – rubbish guitar, vocals, computer stuff”

Emperor Penguin: the original line-up, outside Alaska Studios, London, in around 1999. L-R: Nigel, Rich, Neil, Adrian.

🎶 MFP: Where did it all begin? Where and how did you all meet?

JT: “I first met Rich countless years ago in a cellar and have been irritating him ever since. He introduced me to the others.

Nigel: “Rich and I met age 14 at school and formed a covers band with his older brother. After graduation from university we shared flats in London. At this point Rich was in two bands – one with JT, and another with Neil. I was asked to join both.”

Neil: “Before the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. Barnsley with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Cudworth with its shadow-guarded tombs, Aberdeen, silver city of the frozen north, whose riders wore steel and furs and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was London, reigning supreme in the dreaming south. Hither came the Penguins, shaggy-haired, sullen-eyed, guitars in hand, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under their Doctor Martened feet.”


Rich: “I met Nigel at school in Yorkshire in 1977 through my brother, Vince Berkely, who knew him from the school production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. My brother’s mate had a drum kit but his mum wouldn’t allow drums at their house, so my brother got hold of them and made me play them.  We formed a band with Nigel, playing instrumental versions of chart hits. Few of the eight-year old schoolchildren present at our first ever gig at Stockingate Primary School would forget our version of ‘Rockin All Over The World’.


I met John from Devon in Oxford in 1981, when he joined a nerdy Wire-sort-of-band I was in (Agent Orange) that had advertised for a keyboard player. John said he didn’t have a keyboard but could play his guitar with a screwdriver, in the manner of Godley and Creme’s  Gizmo. John soon went off to found his own post-punk Magaziney/Echo and the Bunnymen-y-style band called Ears To The Ground but by the time I met him again in ’83, Ears To The Ground had developed a busking 50’s/60’s covers alter ego, called The Rockin Raja Brothers, who needed a snare drum. 

We moved to London in 84/5 and while John was kipping on a sofa in my lounge he met my flat-mate Nigel and we drafted him into the Rockin’ Rajas, as his mastery of all the Shadows hits would widen our repertoire considerably.


Meanwhile I’d met Neil at the ad agency where we both worked. He’d brought with him from the wilds of Aberdeen the remnants of a punk band called He’s Dead Jim but he had no drummer and a large bedroom with a drumkit-shaped space in it. Luckily I needed somewhere to keep my drums at the time, so in return for storage space, I joined his band called The Waltons – in our better moments a hybrid of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Crowded House and Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. As often happened, people noticed Nigel was quite a good guitarist, so we stole half of him from the Rockin Rajas and expanded The Waltons into a five-piece in 1987.

After 10 critically-acclaimed but commercially disastrous years, The Waltons (briefly The Treens) all got married and jacked it in. The Rockin’ Rajas continued to play 50s and 60s covers at weddings until even the parents of the happy couple were too old to remember any of the songs and they also ground to a halt.


In 2000, somebody had the idea of forming Emperor Penguin – a power-pop combo of Neil, Nigel, me and Adrian from the Rockin Rajas. Adrian’s brother was a tip top BBC sound engineer and snuck us into Maida Vale Studios to record several tracks which became product number 1: Crumhorn. The arrival of babies restricted Emperor Penguin’s live work to one gig at a rowdy ad agency party where the sound man was skunked to the eyeballs and I was likened by hecklers to the sitcom character Father Ted.  Adrian eventually left London for the West Country and Emperor Penguin went into hibernation, although of course penguins don’t do that, do they? Let’s say we sat on an egg.

Many years went by until someone suggested an idea which had been staring us all in the face for a long time – get John in. So in 2015, or was it 2016 we began rehearsing covers of bands we liked – Fountains of Wayne, BeBop DeLuxe, Dave Edmunds, and er The Beatles – until one day, Neil turned up with a song called Moth Meet Flame. All of a sudden no-one could stop writing great songs (except me – I don’t do that) and here we are, three albums later. A fine musical and geographical journey was had by all.”

Half Way to Havana, from the album Rum Pop Engineer (2018)

🎶 MFP: What made you all start Emperor Penguin, and is there a story behind the name?

JT: “I always wanted to be in the band, but pride made me wait until they asked me – It only took 14 years.

Neil: “We noticed that there was a shocking shortage of groups composed of four middle-aged white men playing Beatles-inspired guitar pop and thought we’d fill the gap in the market. I don’t think there’s a story behind the name but many other names were considered and rejected, including: Fishy Wishy; Egg the Egg; Draw My Dog; Cheesequake; Roast.”

Nigel:“The current line up is an evolution of several earlier versions with different personnel. The name also; previous names being The Waltons, The Treens and Roast before (I seem to recall) we decided that everyone loves penguins, so let’s name ourselves after the grandest sounding one.”

Century 21, from the album Rum Pop Engineer. Live at The Cavern, Liverpool, 2019.

🎶 MFP: Has Emperor Penguin continuously been active since the beginning, or was there ever a break in between?

Neil: “Emperor Penguin went into hibernation from about 2001 to 2016 after original member Adrian Long moved out of town. Like King Arthur’s knights, the remaining Penguins fell into a sleep under a mountain somewhere in Avalon, with our guitars by our sides, until the hour of Britain’s need (2017), when we returned to claim our kingdom.”

Nigel:“The initial activity began in the late 1990s with sessions that became ‘Crumhorn’. The original bassist then moved out of London, we became quite busy with our covers/function band ‘The Rajas’ and life got in the way until we picked it up again about 5 years ago.”

🎶 MFP: Do you remember when it all just clicked, and when you knew your chemistry was spot on?

Rich: “Rehearsing ‘Maid In Heaven’ and it not sounding at all bad”

JT: “When I heard the first mix of (The Theme From) Falling Tree with Nigel’s lead vocal”

Nigel: “For me it was the first time David Bash invited us to play The Cavern at the Liverpool IPO and the release of second album Rum Pop Engineer.”

🎶 MFP: Have any of you ever fought over a girl?

Nigel: “No but plenty of girls continue to fight over us. Shameful really but they’re only human.”

JT: “Not with each other.”

Neil: “I’m a lover not a fighter.”

Memoria Magdalena, from the album Soak Up The Gravy (2020)

🎶 MFP: What was the original goal you all shared for Emperor Penguin?

JT: “To sound like the missing link between the Ramones and XTC produced by John Barry.”

Neil:“To reach the toppermost of the poppermost. Still working on it.”

Nigel:“To combine our shared influences, see how far we could push ourselves musically in an attempt to sound like no one else.”

🎶 MFP: Hardest lesson you learned as a musician would be…?

Nigel: “Putting new strings on your guitars is never fun until you hear them.”

Neil:“The location of ‘F’.”

JT: “Your hands are important, be careful with power tools in the days before a gig.”

🎶 MFP: Have you ever shown up to a gig accidentally wearing the same exact thing?

Nigel: “No but we all have secret tattoos of Partridge Family-era Shirley Jones, but will never reveal where they are.”

Neil: “There is very little sartorial variety amongst Emperor Penguin. At most gigs it’s entirely likely that most of us will be dressed in a uniformly dowdy and drab manner.”

Rich: “When we were in the Rockin Raja Brothers we were supposed to do this on purpose, but usually someone would forget that the dress code this week was black shirts and turn up in a white on.”


🎶 MFP: What is the weirdest gig you have ever had?

Neil: “That time we supported The Wombles.”

JT: “Three members of the band once played at a Christmas party in bear costumes…

Rich: “In the goods van of a train (a la Beatles “Should’ve Known Better”/Hard Day’s Night) with the Rockin Raja Brothers”

Nigel: “A rooftop gig at Kensington Gardens in London, where halfway through our set they announced the Casino was open in the next room. Virtually the entire audience disappeared in seconds.”

🎶 MFP: What is the coolest thing you have ever bought using money you made from music?

Nigel: My new Korg midi keyboard – just arrived a few days ago. But that was bought with wages from my day job as a coal miner. Not sure we’ve made any money from music. Yet.”

JT: “Beer.”

Neil: “A plectrum.”

Rich: “Money made from music…?”

‘We’re a garage band…’

🎶 MFP: When writing lyrics or music parts does it feel more strategic or is it more based on instant inspiration? (Or is it a little of both?)

Nigel: “Personally I have to have a musical or lyrical idea buzzing around my head for quite a while before I pick up an instrument. Once I do, it’s usually a quick process to get an entire song down.”

JT: “The best bits start like the ghosts of ideas that you half-see out of the corner of your eye when looking for something else.”

Katie’s Only Trending, from the album Soak Up the Gravy (2020)

🎶 MFP: Who was your musical hero when you were a kid? 

JT: “Mike Nesmith”

Neil: “Abba.”

Nigel: “Hank B. Marvin and Bert Weedon in equal measure.”

Rich: “Tough choice……Gerry Shepherd from the Glitter Band or Roy Wood from Wizzard or Les Gray from Mud, or Alan Williams from the Rubettes.”

🎶 MFP: Is there another instrument you wish you had learned?

Rich: “Drums”

Neil: “Piano”

JT: “Bagpipes”

Nigel: “Drums. But you need both sides of the brain to work in harmony for that. Both sides of my brain argue constantly.”

Hangar 9, from the album Rum Pop Engineer (2021)

🎶 MFP: What do you wish to accomplish in Emperor Penguin that you feel you have not accomplished yet?

Nigel: “Play live at Glastonbury. That may actually be a possibility next year…”

Neil: “Jazz”

JT: “Record one song that is 10% as good as anything on Revolver.”

Rich: “Over 1000 listens of any song on Spotify.”

The Burning Man, from the album Soak Up The Gravy (2020)

🎶 MFP: What is your favorite Emperor Penguin song and why?

JT: “At the moment, The Way the Cookie Crumbles – great concept, a joint effort with everyone playing at the top of their game.”

Neil: “It’s usually any song that I haven’t listened to for a while. And it randomly comes up in a playlist or on something I’m listening to, and I think , ‘This is good. Who is it? Oh, it’s us.’ That’s a good feeling.”

Rich: “Only Love  – very simple, good tune, good lyrics, good fun to play live.”

Nigel: “Usually the most recent ones are favourites. If I had to pick one overall for the band I’d say Jensen Interceptor. One written by me I’d go for Tuesday’s World.”

🎶 MFP: What do like to write most about when it comes to lyrics and why?

Neil: “Medieval catholic saints, outer space, time travel, British foreign policy during the second world war – just the everyday, universal themes that really matter to people today.”

Nigel: “Anything goes for me apart from straightforward boy/girl songs. If we do stray into that territory it has to have a lyrical twist to make it something more interesting other than just ‘ooh baby I want you back…”

JT: “Unlikely or forgotten heroes; films and obscure TV series; idiots; flying saucers; beautiful places, people and things.”

🎶 MFP: To you, what is the BEST part about being a DIY artist or band? What is the worst part?

Neil: “Best: we can do whatever we like. Worst: we can do whatever we like

JT: “Having to please absolutely no-one except occasionally the other band members.”

Rich: “Best part is I can make the drums sound a lot better than they would be if I had to play in real time.”

Nigel: “Best part; complete freedom to write and play what we like. If anyone else likes it too, that’s brilliant. Worst part; don’t think I’ve ever had a long enough soundcheck playing live. Ever.”

Little Green Worm from the new album Corporation Pop!

🎶 MFP: You’ve released a few EP’s and made some of your music available as free downloads. What was the purpose of giving your music away for free?

Nigel: “Particularly with the Covid restrictions of last year (we haven’t physically seen each other since last February) we wanted to keep engaging with our audience regularly. Otherwise they’ll forget about you.”

Neil: Spreading joy to the kids of the world.”

JT: “To get someone else to listen.”

Album Cover GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎶 MFP: Your new album logo (that I’ve been seeing on your social media pages) is SO COOL! IT MOVES!

Nigel: Thanks a lot! We just wanted something eye-catching… pleased it caught yours!

🎶 MFP: Your new release, Corporation Pop! Can you share with our readers more about this album?

JT: “It’s full of useful advice, poignant nostalgia, sarcasm spite and fun.

Neil:“It’s pretty good, I reckon.”

Nigel:“This is a kind of compilation of last year’s three 4 track EPs but including previously unreleased tracks. We’ve also been collaborating with other artists more so than previous album releases, which has been a lot of fun!”

🔴 🟠 🟡 🟢 🔵 🟣🔴 🟠 🟡 🟢 🔵 🟣🔴 🟠 🟡 🟢 🔵 🟣


🟠 MFP: The beach or the woods?

JT: The sheltering pines just inland from the beach

Neil: The city

Nigel: A log cabin on the edge of the woods with a view of the sea beyond

Rich: The woods

😋 MFP: I’m ordering pizza with Emperor Penguin. What toppings am I going to ask for? 

Rich: Artichoke, anchovy and black olives

Nigel: Lobster Thermidor

Neil: No pineapple. No fruit ever on a pizza

JT: Spinach

🟢 MFP: Favorite late night snack after a gig?

JT: Peanuts (salted)

Rich: Doner Kebab

Nigel: Tempura King Prawns, sweet and sour sauce dip.

Neil: Bacon sandwich

🟣 MFP: When you are not playing music, what might we find you doing instead? 

Nigel: Doing my bit to ensure Donald Trump is never allowed to run for office again

Neil: Reading a book

JT: Repairing guitars and riding a motorcycle (Not at the same time)

Rich: Making a 1/24 scale model of a Messerschmitt BF109e

🟡 MFP: Most emotional song of all time for you would be?

Neil: Who Knows Where The Time Goes – Fairport Convention

 Don’t Worry Baby – Beach Boys

JT: Some Fantastic Place – Squeeze

Rich: Harvest Festival – XTC

🔴 MFP: If you could make a music mixtape for someone you were trying hard to impress, what would FIVE of those songs be?

Rich: Alfie – Dionne Warwick; Hounds of Love – Kate Bush; A Case Of You – Joni Mitchell;This Boy – The Beatles; Are You Ready To Rock? – Wizzard

Nigel: Jump Rope Gazers – The Beths; Queen Of My School – Lemon Twigs; 20 Seconds – The Real People; Helter Skelter – The Beatles; Season Cycle – XTC

Neil: The Fall – Jawbone and the Air Rifle;  Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare; Captain Beefheart – Frownland;  Neu! – Hallo Gallo; Material (Feat. William Burroughs) – Words of Advice

JT: To Sir With Love – Lulu; My Favourite Things – John Coltrane; The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead – XTC; It Might As Well Rain Until September – Carole King; Gone Shooting – AC/DC

🟢 MFP: What is currently being played on your car stereo? (CD…radio station…)

JT: Symphony No. 40 in G Minor – Mozart

Neil: No car. You don’t need a car in London.

Rich: All Quiet On The Noise Floor – Jason Falkner

Nigel: There Is No Light Without The Dark – The Stan Laurels

🔵 MFP: Name a song you are super embarrassed to admit you actually really  like! 

Rich: We Will – Gilbert O’Sullivan

JT: There are others who think I should be embarrassed for liking ‘When You’re Gone’ by Bryan Adams and Mel C. but I’m not.

Nigel: Xanadu – Rush (A Farewell To Kings). Like JT, everyone seems to be embarrassed by this except me. 

Neil: The Osmonds – Crazy Horses

🟡 MFP: Have you ever worn stage makeup like eyeliner / lipstick, etc to a gig?

Neil: Back in the glam/punk days I used to wear eyeliner every time I left the house, never mind just for gigs.

JT: Yes.

Rich: A flesh-coloured rubber cone head wig. Everyone else was supposed to wear one but didn’t.

Nigel: Approach me with either and I won’t be responsible for my actions.

🟠 MFP: If I came to come visit you, where would you take me? 

Rich: The Operating Theatre Museum, London Bridge

JT: Bodiam Castle.

Nigel: There’s a chinese restaurant in Scotland somewhere; apparently superb good food and the only one in a radius of 70 miles. It’s called Bon Appetit!

Neil: The pub! And Tate Modern art gallery

🟣 MFP: What dream concert would you LOVE to see this year? 

Neil: I’d like to see the Velvet Underground at Max’s Kansas City in 1969.

JT: An XTC reunion.

Rich: XTC.

Nigel: XTC. XTC. XTC!

***Media Links for Emperor Penguin***

Check out Emperor Penguin’s latest 2022 release Sunday Carvery

Sunday Carvery on Bandcamp UK at EmperorPenguin/Bandcamp

Also available in the USA at Kool Kat Musik – Emperor Penguin Sunday Carvery


***Just want to add a quick THANK YOU to Neil Christie of Emperor Penguin for helping me with some of the more technical additions in our interview! ❤️❤️❤️ -Lisa


Mychols Playground MUSIC News!!!

HaPpY RoCkToBeR!!!

October 2019 Fabulous Playground News!!!


The Seven and Six are….
Lisa Mychols as Elsie Six (Bass/Vocals), Tommy Seven (Guitar/Vocals), and Mike John Altier (Drums/Vocals) 



ep#1 by The Seven and Six / Artwork by Nigel Patrick Winfield

ep#1 is The Seven and Six’s brand new 4 song collection (Produced by Tommy Seven of The Seven and Six), can be streamed from just about anywhere including Spotify!
Website (GET FREE STUFF) TheSevenandSix.com
The Seven & Six are also now on Bandcamp/TheSevenAndSix
The Seven And Six Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSevenandSix/
Playlist for The Seven and Six (my personal playlist) Youtube/TheSevenAndSixPlaylist
                   ❤️🧡💛💚💙     Mychols Fabulous Playground   ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 


Artwork by Steve Stanley

Physical copies of Lisa Mychols’ SUGAR (Produced by Steve Refling), can now be purchased at Kool Kat Musik, and can be found on digital platforms like Apple, iTunes and Spotify.
Also available at Amazon Digital Music: Sugar/LisaMychols

❤️ ❤️ ❤️


The Lisa Mychols 3 self-titled ep (digital only) is still available at the CD Baby/LisaMychols3 store. (Also available on those same digital platforms as listed above).
***Listen to full song samples at CDBaby/LisaMychols3
               ❤️🧡💛💚💙     Mychols Fabulous Playground   ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙   


Euphora ep by Kai Danzberg

Kai Danzberg’s “The Day”
-A duet by Kai Danzberg & Lisa Mychols!!!
Big Stir Records…Plus Futureman Records recording artist Kai Danzberg has released Euphoria, an ep that includes Kai and Lisa’s 2nd duet together.
Watch the MUSIC VIDEO for “This Day” at Youtube/ThisDay

Euphoria (ep) can be streamed at:

Euphoria (ep) can be purchased at Bandcamp/EuphorIa

Also available AmazonDigital/Euphoria
Did you miss the first duet by Kai and Lisa?
Check it out! “Just Let Me Know”,  was part of Kai’s 2018 album Not Only Sunshine.
Watch the MUSIC VIDEO for “Just Let Me Know” at Youtube/JustLetMeKnow
For Kai’s bio and PHYSICAL CD releases: BigStirFutureman/KaiDanzberg
For Kai’s digital only releases: Bandcamp/KaiDanzberg
Kai’s music videos at Youtube/KaiDanzbergOfficial
Big Stir…Plus Futureman Records at BigStirFutureman
               ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜     Mychols Fabulous Playground   ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜  
Emperor Penguin Features Lisa Mychols on “Keep Wasting My Time”
“Keep Wasting My Time can be heard on the Emperor Penguin’s 2018 album Walnut Fascia.
Walnut Fascia by Emperor Penguin is available on Bandcamp at:
Lisa Mychols is currently back in the studio working on a new song with Emperor Penguin for their next album release. Also a side note, Nigel from Emperor Penguin, did both the logo and ep artwork for The Seven and Six!!! 
Follow Emperor Penguin at Facebook/epenguinsrock
               ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜     Mychols Fabulous Playground   ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙   


“I’ll leave you with your Beatles, I’m takin’ back my Rolling Stones!”


Super 8 Featuring Paul Ryan (Trip) and Lisa Mychols
Trip (Paul Ryan) and Lisa Mychols got together for the first time to work on a fun single called, “Timebomb”!!!
Check out this amazingly fun MUSIC VIDEO for “Timebomb” at Youtube/Timebomb
“Timebomb” is available at Bandcamp/Timebomb
Super 8’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/super8muse/

Trip and Lisa are currently working on another single…
Follow us on Facebook to stay in the know! 🧡🧡🧡
                 ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜     Mychols Fabulous Playground   ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜  
Lisa Mychols is back in the studio with Steve Refling and The Shondikes!!!
Lisa Mychols also sang with The Shondikes for their 2015 album, Psychotic Make Out Music
Listen to samples and purchase Psychotic Make Out Music at CDBaby/PsychoticMakeOutMusic
Visit The Shondikes FB Page at Facebook/TheShondikes
Follow Mick’s youtube channel at Youtube/TheShondikes 
                                                   ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜 🖤 

                 💚💚💚SPOTIFY FRIENDS💚💚💚

If you LOVE any of the music from this newsletter, 


In return, if YOU have music you would like for us to add to our playlists, please let me know at

Let’s help support each other in the business we LOVE so much!!!



  @MycholsMeowPop and @ElsieMychols

TwitterLogo @LisaMychols



Cooking & Baking books for kids!

Kid Chef


“I’m always looking for fun new kid friendly recipes to cook with the kids”, says Unye the Unicorn. I absolutely agree, says me!

Kid Chef Every Day-The Easy Cookbook for Foodie Kids crossed my path so, of course, I had to pick this one up!


“Hi! I’m Unye!!!”

The contents are straight to the point. Part One: Cooking Class with Your Kitchen and Everyday Kitchen Skills, followed by Breakfast, Snacks & Small Bites, Soups, Salads & Sandwiches, Main Dishes and Desserts. There is also a cool bonus in the back:  Measurement Conversions (very nice)!


Photo by Unye

Lots of great tips and easy to follow instructions for successful cooking! I also like how they include equipment icons with descriptions. Author Colleen Kennedy also goes in to cooking eco-friendly!

Here is an example, using Lesson 1. It goes into Reviewing the Basics, Chef Lingo, Measuring Skills, Organization…all super great going over with the kids, before they get in to some habits that they may have to unlearn later.


Photo’s by Unye 

Fun and playful!  Helpful hints throughout!


Photo by Unye

I also like the recipes the author chose, for this particular book. They seem to flow well together. Maybe not ALL the recipes are kid friendly for my own kids, but they certainly found this recipe to make for us…

Ravioli Lasagna.

Note: This was the only ravioli I could find at our local grocery store. Also thought we’d give this three cheese spaghetti sauce from Trader Joes a try.


Kitty approves!


A kid friendly SUCCESS!


Ravioli Lasagna photos by Unika


Fun fun! I highly recommend this cookbook for kids, especially as a gift- maybe along with an apron and a cooking tool! Enjoy!!!

Available at Amazon.com/KidChefEveryDay https://amzn.to/2CRF4EY

Colleen Kennedy’s Blog Soufflebombay.com www.soufflebombay.com

*** I received a review copy from the publisher.


Baking for Kids

My kids and I are really enjoying this one! I appreciate the straight forward good basic baking skills, basic baking ingredients….and each recipe is organized by TOOLS/EQUIPMENT then INGREDIENTS. The photos  throughout the book are fun too, giving kids a simple example of what the end result could look like!

Kitty 1

Photo by Unye

I’ve baked plenty enough on my own, and I can already tell my kids will find this a pretty easy enough baking book to follow on THEIR own, which means….

Kitty 3.jpg

Photo by Unye

We’ll definitely be using this for our home school science classes….for sure! Hey, it’s science you can eat! Woohoo!

Kitty 2

Photo by Unye

My kids favorite recipes so far: Pull apart cheese bread, Strawberry-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars, Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake and the various individual frostings that follow…there are so many recipes for almost every mood and theme…


Photo by Unye

…even recipes absolutely perfect for serving with afternoon tea, like Thumbprint Jam Cookies, Mini Blueberry Hand Pies, Fruity Cereal Cupcakes, Brown Sugar-Pecan Scones…oh the list goes on and on..and should be for your own surprise, at this point! 😉

Definitely a keeper, this one!

Available at Amazon.com/SuperSimpleBakingForKids

Find out more on author Charity Mathews at Amazon.com/CharityMathews

*** I received a review copy from the publisher.


Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to set up your Amazon account to Smile.Amazon.com, where Amazon will give back to your favorite charity!!! 

From Anger to LOVE, Consent to FREEDOM

Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad

Author: Samantha Snowden MA
Forward by Andrew Hill PhD


What I LOVE most about this book, is that it’s an engaging workbook filled with activities!!!
I am absolutely BEYOND impressed by this workbook and cannot wait to start using it with my own kids…and myself…sigh. The thing is, is that my youngest struggles with some STRONG anger every now and then (literally getting lost in it),  while my older child struggles to understand why that kind of anger even is-which often leads to more arguments and more fighting. I definitely see this workbook as a very strong supportive coaching tool for my own family.
The pages of this workbook are immediately safe, uplifting, calming, and most importantly FUN! There’s a nice consistent flow! Some writing activities include: recognizing emotions for what they are, drawing a photo of what “it” looks like, why negative emotions come up, what they look like, what they feel like, how strong the feelings are, the feelings that come up after reacting…..
I cannot recommend this book highly enough-I mean, it’s serious yet FUN business! If action is not taken on the angry and/or sad emotions that come up,  there’s a good chance that those patterns will continue happening to the person experiencing them within their own UN-conscious state of awareness, which can get passed on and on on to future generations only to continue the suffering that comes with it all.
To recognize emotions first and foremost is KEY! “Hey look! There it is!”
So bust out those colorful gel pens for yourself, your child or pretty much ANYONE who might feel their emotions are running the show! Recognizing, disarming and dissolving negative programming while making it fun throughout the process!
I’d like to personally point out here that I always remind myself that one is ever “broken” or “messed up”. We are simply addressing human emotions that come with conditioning and programming. Everyone has their own set. We are in a day and age where we can dissolve what doesn’t work and reprogram for what does!
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Now available at Amazon.com/AngerManagementWorkbookForKids


Consent: The New Rules of Sex Education: Every Teen’s Guide to Healthy Sexual Relationships

Author: Jennifer Lang MD


I admit that I will be giving this book to my pre-teen, although I really got this book for myself. It seems that in a world of a pre-programmed culture and being raised through the beliefs and actions of our own parents, this great little book could offer some fresh new insight for new generations EVERYWHERE! I really feel that this book will help even me have a better chance at someone my kids can feel confident to come to when they need some extra advice. In other words, this book could help us ALL to be on “the same page”, so to speak.
I LOVE the feel of this book. It’s handsome with a look of trust and totally classy all the way! Inside? Yep, it delivers!!!
So let’s talk about it! That’s how it starts out, talking about it. It goes on to relationships and communication. (Where was this book when I was a teen!!!!)
It goes in to pressures, expectations, personal healthcare (thank goodness!), preventative measures (an especially fabulous chapter for females!!!), meanings of the words being used when it comes to anything having to do with the appeal of sex, and so much more. There is quite a lot covered in these chapters, offering great insight while getting straight to the point. Consent is giving me so much renewed confidence, which will be GREAT for when I talk with my own kids about anything sex related.  Funny thing is, is that my oldest will be receiving this book for Christmas…I bet he’ll wonder how I know so much about this topic! (I’ll just keep it hush hush for now!)
So yep! Not just for teens! Great for parents to re-educate themselves with, or any adult just learning about what may not have been taught to them yet.
Consent. The New Rules of Sex Education. A+
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Available 12/11/18 at Amazon.com/ConsentTheNewRulesofSexEducation

Authors Amazon Page: Amazon/JenniferLangMD

Thirty Minutes Past a Nightmare Before Dinner – Cookbook reviews Fall 2018

30-Minute Cooking For Two

Healthy Dishes Without All the Fuss

Author: Taylor Ellingson

30 minute cooking for two

Perfect for one, two, or even more if you double the recipes!

Definitely my go-to cookbook going forward because the ingredients truly ARE simple! The recipes are thoughtful and already I want to make SO MANY of them!!!

My review here is more about what I ended making from this cookbook so far, because I love re-creating recipes to make sure a cookbook really delivers and earns my trust so…here we go!

The recipe I chose to make: Creamy Salsa Verde Chicken Enchilada Skillet.

Since I’m totally obsessed with Mexican food and live in California where Mexican food RULES, I went straight for trying this recipe.

Side note: I feel that the recipes throughout this cookbook are really open for if there is ever a need to improvise, without ruining the recipe. Like, for instance, on this particular recipe we added one extra chicken breast to make the recipe a larger portion.

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We also used a more of the green salsa in the sauce sauce and ended up rolling the enchiladas (dry-yes, it’s okay!!!), then poured the sauce and cheese on after, baking them in the end. (I mean, it was Friday night and all, lol).
This recipe was a major YES YES YES HIT!!!! The ingredients are what make this dish really stand out to be INCREDIBLE!!!
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Husband and I even declared, WE DID IT! WE MASTERED ENCHILADAS!!! We agreed that we may never go back to take-out ever again!!!! (This is the absolute honest TRUTH!) 
As I mentioned before, it WAS Friday night, so I decided to make a quick side dish to go along with these superb enchiladas (since it’s shown in the plated photo below). 
Quick mexi-spanish style rice
By: MycholsFabulousKitchen
1 Medium Sweet or White Onion (Diced)
3 Garlic (Minced)
10 oz can Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1 Cup Brown Rice (rinse, if needed) -I use the 35-40 minute style brown rice. 
2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Drizzle olive oil in a small or medium sized pot and sauté diced onions till cooked and lightly brown. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more then remove both onions and garlic and set aside.
Place water in to un-rinsed preheated pot and allow the water to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the canned tomatoes and bring them up to a boil. 
Now add the 1 cup of rinsed rice and the sautéed onions and garlic and allow them to boil. Cover and cook 35-40 minutes (or as long as your rice directions say to cook. 
Here is our final plated dish, where black smashed beans were also added. Woohoo, what a success! Now THAT is the best Friday night dinner event to experience at home!!!
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Thank you to Callisto Publisher’s Club for providing me with a free copy of 30-Minute Cooking For Two Healthy Dishes Without All the Fuss, so that I could review it. 💗💗💗
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Follow this wonderful author at TaylorEllingsonAuthorPage

The Nightmare Before Dinner

Author: Zach Neil


Nightmare before
Making great recipes in the theme of spooky!!!! 
I LOVE that this cookbook is truly dedicated to the fall season. Each recipe starts off straight to the point! Title of the recipe, prep time, cook time, servings and what the recipe is all about!
There are many Vegan options for a lot of these recipes.
There’s a great chapter dedicated to sauces!!!
I LOVE this author’s sense of humor! They get serious about the inspiration about a recipe and then BOOM, say something incredibly joyously funny just out of the blue! (Thank you for that!!!)
Occasional bad words are used perfectly and beautifully!!!!
Not a ton of photos, but the photos that ARE in this book offer great ideas for spooky inspiring presentation. In some recipes, they also give serving ideas within that particular recipe theme-major plus!
Pro Sriracha sauce!!!!
What really PULLS me into these recipes are the short intros to each one. Not only do they explain what sauces might be used for, but they also include inspiration for what to expect from that particular recipe. In other words, WHY should I make this recipe is ANSWERED!!! 😀 
Bonus is that it starts with Beetle House Must-Haves…tools, ingredients,  a whole page on how to “Veganize it”-great call on including that! 
Their chapter on drinks “POISONS, POTIONS & ELIXIRS Deadly Drinks, Creepy Cocktails is really fun and super creative! 
…or get this book just for the picture of their recipe called Big Fish Bowl…Hahahahahaha!!!! 🐟🐟🐟
The “Themed Parties” chapter is a nice touch to this book! Seriously, loved that chapter! 
And now…what is it that I actually made from this book? Well, since I’m completely obsessed with sauces and cocktails, I went with the following….
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I’ll start with the Soul Sauce
This sauce is supposed to be a Southern BBQ-ish sauce to haunt your dreams! A BBQ meets basting sauce. 
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The ingredients and recipe were very simple and includes bourbon and 1/2 a tangerine, which for me is already very adventurous and a must try!
Here is the sauce as it breaks down, cools off, and gets stored in to jars for our taste test later!
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I also made the Edward Sauce. This was a sour cream/mayo type of sauce that I thought would be fun to sample with…well, french fries, of course! 
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Next, I created their cocktail The Beetle’s Juice. 
This one uses blackberry schnapps and tequila (How very spooky of them!)
I couldn’t resist so I went out and bought most of the ingredients …apparently I forgot the cranberry juice that was supposed to go in it! I also left out the blackberries…oh, and since I had lemons on hand, I used lemon juice instead of lime juice. 
Now on to the sampling….
The Soul Sauce (BBQ sauce) turned out to be a bit more on the Asian side-like a hoisin sauce. Husband said he would love this sauce with dumplings or egg rolls. 
The Edward Sauce…oh wow…THIS one is especially YUMMY!!!! Husband said it tasted very classy and old school. To me, it tasted like an old school burger sauce.
Not but a moment after this sampling had I realized that I had forgotten to add in the freakin’ sriracha sauce!
The Edward Sauce was still amazing without the sriracha and after it was added in, husband said it went from it’s previous classy delicate English/French flavor to a more Southwestern type of sauce. Both ways certainly are winners and perfect to serve with french fries! 
Not long after, I decided to mix the two sauces together (meaning the soul sauce and the Edward Sauce), and found the Edward Sauce brought a really nice flavor to the Soul Sauce so…
We are going to make burgers this weekend using BOTH sauces, either mixed together or layered! What fun! They will go perfectly!
As for The Beetle’s Juice…A WINNER WINNER WINNER for an inspiring and delightful aperitif!!! The flavor is spectacular, although I got a pretty big buzz from that little glass, lol!!! Husband said The Beetle’s Juice (without the juice, lol) tasted complex and sweet, spicy and mysterious!!! 
This will definitely be our go-to cocktail for this fall/holiday season….WITH the cranberry juice!!! 
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So big kudos to author Zach Neil (and his mom!) and to ALL the co-creators that were a part of this very fun, wild and wonderful cooking/cocktail/party planning themed book! Definitely worth giving as a gift!!! 
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
To visit Beetle House Restaurant and bar websites, go to
(Open in New York and Los Angeles with more locations to come!)
Follow Zach’s Instagram at @therealzachneil
Visit the author’s Amazon Page at Amazon.com/ZachNeil


Hope you enjoyed these reviews!
-Mychols Fabulous Playground

Everything’s Coming Up Rose, Tim Rose

Tim Rose is a musician and friend whom I met back in the mid/late nineties while his band, The Sun Sawed In 1/2, were in Los Angeles, CA playing a show.  Tim and I bonded right off the bat!

This interview is a spotlight on Tim Rose and his life in music with The Sun Sawed In 1/2, his personal thoughts on being a musician in our time, and, well…. a little bit more.

Thanks so much for reading!!!


Sun tim



MFP: So Tim, I’d LOVE to start off with when you first got into music and what really inspired you at that time. 

Tim: When I was in 7th grade I was really into KISS. They were the coolest band I had ever heard; we all wanted to own everything they produced from the records to joining the KISS army. My brother and I got together with neighborhood kids and made fake guitars and put on shows for the neighbors as we lip-synched. It was, however, my grandmother who insisted on buying me some “decent” music to listen to instead of this “clown” music. She bought me the Beatles red greatest hits album. It changed my life.

Sun said

VIDEO for Rio: Watch here!

MFP: I saw one of your childhood films and you were like, in 8th grade. What was that all about? 

Tim: Our friend, Andy decided to make a documentary on super 8 of our first band, Rio. We loosely based it on the history of the Beatles. I was a cinemaphile since my early childhood owing to my mom taking me along to the movies to see adult themed movies she wanted to see instead of getting a sitter. I always dreamt of being a filmmaker. Recently, with the Adobe suite, I have been able to make my own videos and edit them.

Sun 5

MFP: Nice! Does that include you creating your own music videos, as well? If so, where can our readers see your work?

TIM: My music video for our song, “Elephants into Swans” is available, as well as my work with the non-profit, The Answers Project (set up to preserve indigenous tribes around the world) also viewable on youtube.com.


“Elephants Into Swans” Music Video WATCH HERE

Answers Project

The Answers Project video: WATCH HERE

MFP: You are also another kind of creative! You did the artwork for the album Hula by Nushu (a band I was in 😍). What other music albums have you done artwork for? 

Tim: I can’t really remember them all. I have done all of the Sun Sawed in 1/2 albums as well as my solo album, Fresh Mowed Lawnand work for Ken Kase, The Funky Butt Brass Band, a Left Banke tribute album that we also performed on, and about a dozen others.


MFP: On top of all of that, you also design some very lovely websites! Any that you’d care to share with us here?

Tim: My personal site showcases my 20+ years of working in design and advertising. However, I’m very proud of the site for The Answers Project. This charity means so much to me as it afforded me the opportunity to travel the world and live with and interview tribal elders from Borneo to Ecuador.

Tim 3

MFP: Did, or do you take any schooling or classes to support your art and music (film, art, instruments, etc)

Tim: Yes, I graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My father was a photographer and art director. He taught me many things. I also traveled the world with National Geographic photographers when I ran the Starbucks art program. I learned so much from them.

…and now I present to you, from St Louis, MO……



Sun 3

MFP: What got you interested in starting a band? Seems you started really young. 

Tim: My dad had a reel to reel Sony and an acoustic guitar. We used to play it with a quarter as a pick and make up songs even before we knew how to play. The 6th grade kid across the street had a drum kit. The rest happened organically.

Tim 4

MFP: Are you a self-taught musician? 

Tim: Yes. I took all the Beatles songs and put them on the reel to reel tape. Then I went to sleep with my guitar each night and figured out how to play every one of them.

Sun 4
🌞 VIDEO FOR “DENNY’S GIRL” by The Sun Sawed In 1/2 WATCH HERE!

MFP: Who are your musical heroes and why?

Tim: My primary heroes are the typical Beatles and Brian Wilson. I had the fortune of meeting Brian several times owing to my friendship with Probyn Gregory and Jeff Foskett. That was fantastic. For the guitar, Pete Townsend is my hero. I wanted to play with the same wanton energy as Pete.


MFP: What do you LOVE and NOT love about the music industry at this particular time? 

Tim: What I suppose I love is the idea that anyone can make music at home at any time. What I don’t love is the idea that most of it isn’t easy to access. Commercial pop sounds unlistenable to me for the most part. I never thought I would be nostalgic for disco, 80s hair metal or 90s hip hop. I hated those things at the time but they sound so much better than the 808 autotune rap today.


MFP: I know everyone LOVES this question but I still must ask, how did you come up with the name The Sun Sawed In 1/2?

Tim: After band practice, my brother saw a newspaper kiosk in our town of St. Louis. It was the tabloid, the Sun. The headline was “Sawed in 1/2” He said, “Now there’s a surreal name that no other band will have.”

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MFP: Your lead singer, Doug Bobenhouse. How did you and Doug originally meet, and was he that perfect singer that you were looking for? 

Tim: Our first singer, Chip left after our first year together. Doug was a kid who had come to see us several times. I know he was eager to play with us. He took me outside and sang “Rosemary” by Lenny Kravitiz. I said, great, you’re in.

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He had a powerful and clean pop voice. It took him awhile to get used to my writing and took him longer to get the knack of performing, but that can be said for all of us. We literally all learned together.

Sun 4

🌞 VIDEO FOR “DRAGONFLY” by The Sun Sawed In 1/2

MFP: How do you write your Music? Your lyrics? Do you have a muse? 

Tim: I get into a trance by writing for hours and pay zero attention to what I’m doing. I record all of the improv and then spend weeks digging through and culling the good parts. Then I got back as a sober editor and piece it together. The lyrics are mostly whatever I was singing stream of conscious at the time with some polishing. My muse is the inner hurricane of my own brain.




The Happiness and other short stories (1992)

Hot Feet for Monkey God (1993)

Mind Flip (1995)


Fizzy Lift (1997)

Bewilderbeest (2000)

Elephants into Swans (2013)

MFP: So aside from album releases by The Sun Sawed In 1/2…..

Tim: We did a cassette tape with Chip (The Sun Sawed In 1/2’s first singer), that shall never see the light of day. I put out a solo album Fresh Mowed Lawn which I recorded in 2004 in Vienna, Austria with jazz pros and the Vienna Symphony.

Fresh Mowed Lawn

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🎧 click to listen


MFP: You’ve also toured with The Sun Sawed In 1/2. Is there anything you might want to share here today about lessons learned or great takeaways through your personal experiences? 

Tim: It was hard. Internally, there are the same group of guys who all have different ideas and patience. Externally, it is difficult to book, deal with club owners, do the radio interviews, party every night and perform.

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My biggest lesson was to take care of the internal relationships more. Most bands implode from within. Only Doug, my brother and I were able to see it through all the way. We went through many drummers, keyboardists and secondary guitarists along the way. However, there is no bad blood and I am still in touch with everyone who took the time to bring our dream alive.

Tim sun

MFP: If you could go back in time with The Sun Sawed In 1/2, what would you do differently? 

Tim: Practice more and realize we were not as great as we thought we were. In our youth, we thought we were world class. We didn’t push it as hard either as musicians or as performers as we could have. I always thought the strength on my end was the songwriting. I worked very hard on writing songs I would be proud of. My guitar playing was nothing stellar. I would have also worked harder on the arrangements.


MFP: What are you currently creatively working on these days?

Tim: Doug (Bobenhouse) and I got together in July this year and played some new material at his home in Chicago. We now can work with Logic and share ideas. I also recorded Bonnie McCoy and her husband Marcus. I co-wrote three songs with them that are totally different from the power pop of the Sun. Bonnie is the great grandniece of Memphis Minnie. She is a legendary blues singer.

Over, Under, Sideways, Down!

MFP: What new and/or old music are you listening to these days? 

Tim: The new bands I like tend to sound either a lot like bands I liked in my childhood or bands that are totally crazy. I’m digging Babymetal, Lucius, The Staves, The Struts, Foxygen, Fleet Foxes, and The Lemon Twigs. I still discover new music by old bands through Spotify by digging through their deep catalogs. Lately, I’ve been into The Stylistics, Carole King, Pilot, and the Zombies.

MFP: What is the strangest record/cd in your music collection that might leave your friends scratching their heads about? 

Tim: Possibly Babymetal. I also have a thing for Crystal Gayle.

MFP: What are your other talents (cooking, woodworking, fixing cars, knowing stuff, etc…)

Tim: After living in Italy for four years, cooking has been a passion. I also like filmmaking, art direction, and especially travel. I’ve been to 39 countries and have a laundry list of more I can’t wait to explore.

MFP: Nice! So what is your favorite food to make?

Tim: I love making quality Northern Italian food such as risotto, farinata, gnocchi, and pumpkin-filled pastas.

MFP: Mmmm…I’ll be right over!!! (haha) So what feeds your Spirit? What revitalizes you?

Tim: Meeting people from other cultures and learning what feeds their spirit. Learning something new every day.

MFP: FABULOUS! One last question before I let you go: What advice would you give a young musician today?

Tim: I would say, sadly, the same thing that was told to me by my elders, make sure you have a backup plan. Make music for yourself and be happy with what you do. If someone else digs it, great. But make the music for your own soul foremost.

MFP: Beautiful, Tim. Thank you so much! 🧡🧡🧡

Timothy Rose Creative Direction Website

Tim is a Creative Director and runs a consulting business where he helps to build and champion brands. Visit Timroseltd.com to find out more. 

To my blog readers and followers,

***Thank YOU for taking the time in reading our lovingly co-created content. I’m always excited to peek in to the minds of other creatives and to share it with others. PLEASE feel free to leave comments or questions at ANY time below!

Love Love Love,

Lisa Mychols
Mychols Fabulous Playground



Timothy Rose Creative Direction Wesbite

The Sun Sawed in 1/2 Bandcamp Page

The Sun Sawed in 1/2 Facebook Page


“Elephants into Swans” MUSIC VIDEO

“Denny’s Girl” MUSIC VIDEO

“Dragonfly” MUSIC VIDEO

“Sleepwalker” MUSIC VIDEO

“She Offers Her Heart” MUSIC VIDEO

“You’re The Something” MUSIC VIDEO

“Starting To See” MUSIC VIDEO
(Lisa Mychols makes a special appearance!)



“Kiss Her Like You Mean It” (LIVE) MUSIC VIDEO

“Tops Of Trees” (LIVE) MUSIC VIDEO

“Dashboard Christopher” (LIVE) MUSIC VIDEO





***Photos used by permission

Camp-out Cook-in and Throw it in a Blender!

The Campout Cookbook
Inspired Recipes for Cooking Around the Fire and Under the Stars
Authors: Marnie Hanel & Jen Stevenson

The Campout

“Elevating the Art of Eating Under the Stars….for survivalists with standards”


I’m just gonna say it. “Party under the stars!!!”

First off, I LOVE how they designed each chapter on the contents page…what FUN!!!

This books starts off with scoping your campsite, basic essentials, smart packing, and much much MORE  short and to the point pre-camping planning! There are some really important packing tips going on this book that I wouldn’t leave home to camp without…especially the suggested tools and the WHY’s they are suggested!

CAR GAMES…CAMPFIRE GAMES….Yep..it’s all in here! They also have some great info about camping with your canine AND little kids!

You just cannot go wrong or mess up your camping experience when you’ve got a book like this one! (THANK YOU!!!)

As for the recipes….

OMG….EVERYTHING LOOKS SOOOOOOOOO YUMMYYYYYY!!!! I’m seeing Dutch Oven Roast Chicken, Chile Five Ways, Pudgie Pies, Pizza….and they include instructions on how to PRE prepare many of these recipes! There are SO MANY amazing looking recipes that I can’t even fit into this review!

What? Not ready for camping in the GREAT outdoors at a real campsite just yet? Find out how to camp in your own backyard…yes-also in this book!

Well…I’m off to practice some camping! (hehe)

I’m going to stop here…although, just a heads up, there are a few extra fun surprise chapters also included in this book for the reader to enjoy that I did not share here! This book is extremely thorough and very inspiring, especially for a beginner camper like me…and I’ll admit…this cookbook almost made me cry. YES, real tears…of JOY!!!

Available 5/29/18 at Amazon.com/CampoutCookbook


Fix Freeze Feast!
Authors: Kati Neville and Lindsay Ahrens

Fix Freeze COVER


A super cool cookbook to prepare home cooked sauces (like curries, stir-fry sauces, brown sugar bourbon for salmon), butter’s and pesto (like their chili lime butter for Halibut or Gorgonzola lemon butter for a wild pasta night…happy sigh….), breakfast burritos, Lemon Lavender Cookies…..I hope you are getting the idea! Oh, and they also have kid-friendly make-ahead dishes like the Sweet Asian Chicken for thawing later to cook either outdoors on a grill or indoor in a skillet. Fun fun!

This cookbook also offers tips on how to Thaw, Cook and Enjoy…because we all know that to enjoy is a major plus here! There is also information on how to make the most of limited freezer space, how to prevent ice crystals, being safe when it comes to storing glass in your freezer, and more!

So set the table like you are doing fine dining and bust out one of those fancy dishes you’ve previously prepared and prepare for one of MANY nights to remember. 🙂

Available 5/29/18 at Amazon/FixFreezeFeast

Freezer Labels (I really like these): Amazon/FreezerLabels



Margaritaville: The Cookbook
Relaxed Recipes For a Taste of Paradise
Authors: Carlo Sernaglia; Julia Turshen
Forward by: Jimmy Buffet!


So when I got to preview this book, they didn’t share all their recipes. This made it a little more challenging for me. What they preview DID share were things I would never both making…but they were fun to glance through, none the less. The pictures are really beautiful and inspiring…they bring a happy contentment with them.

By the time I’d reached the end, I saw drinks! But of course…drinks can’t be so hard! I figured I’d start with their Perfect Bloody Marias recipe. This served a lot more than 4 drinks for me…but maybe my these are made for extra large glasses, (teehee).

Margaritaville Blog

I admit that since I couldn’t find regular tomato juice at my local Trader Joes, I went for their low sodium Vegetable Patch juice. All the other ingredients I had.

What I really appreciated about this recipe was that it wasn’t the usual complicated recipe I keep trying to make…(which usually include all the condiments I can find in the doors of my refrigerator-!!!), but much simpler ingredients and it was a pretty good basic spicy Maria…but to mention again, I DID use a tomato juice mix, which may have made it in to an entirely different experience.

Blog fix


Okay so my next attempt was their Jalapeño Margarita – which you will find in the variation section UNDERNEATH Jimmy’s Perfect Margarita.

I don’t know where my brain was that day I chose to infuse the tequila, but I thought I read to use thin slices of 1 Jalapeño when, in fact, re-reading it the next day (on that same piece of paper), to use 1 SLICE per the amount of tequila to infuse (oh Heaven’s To Betsy!)


Since it was already too late to fix it, I figured I’d continue full steam ahead because…(BECAUSE!!!)……this recipe is SPICY as HECK but…(BUT!!!)….it’s REALLY flavorful..and I didn’t even have all the proper ingredients so YES, this would be worth sharing here!


margarita 1

Since I didn’t have limes but tons of lemons, I juiced one large lemon (which was the exact amount called for in lime juice). Since I did not have Agave Nectar, I used some Agave Syrup I had on had…but I only 1/2 the amount that the recipe called for. (IT WAS PLENTY!)

I forgot to take a photo after I poured it in a glass, because I was kind of upset with myself but then…I got lost in the drink….(I think they call that, “Wasting Away…”? Ha, but I’m not really. As you can see, the ice has melted and I’m just sipping it, at this point…which makes this actually a GREAT sipping kind of drink…kind of like if one were to drink straight tequila! (I’m a sipper of that too!)


This seems like a no fail kind of drink because even though my throat is currently on fire, it doesn’t really last that long…and it’s got a sweet thing going too…a nice fun sipping drink!

But alas….

…as I continued my journey through through Margaritaville, past the drinks, I started to feel sad…like, “is the party over so quickly?”

Luckily…no it wasn’t. They have a super cool section called Tailgating, along with Twenty Party and Menu Suggestions! (They brought my spirits back!) They even included, “Recipes Organized by Fun!”, as well as Practical Party Tips. What a nice way to wrap it all up!

So CHEERS and THANKS for reading!!!

Available at Amazon.com/Margaritaville







Summer Is All Set With Sir SparkleJet: An Interview with Michael Simmons

So while jogging on the beach somewhere in Orange County, I happened to run right into power pop music wonder Michael Simmons! ….Okay, so maybe I wasn’t jogging…or even in Orange County….or on any beach…but I DID run into him…and then THIS happened!

Me (MFP): “Hey Mike! You up for an interview on your new record?” Mike: “Sure! Why not?” Now here it is!

So, Michael. What called you into the world of music to begin with?

Michael Simmons
I’d been begging for 45’s since I could walk.  I remember using my record player in the bedroom of my first house, and we moved away from there when I was three and a half.  I remember writing songs as a kid, mostly about girls I liked, and started really trying to record stuff at 14. I didn’t get any good at this stuff until my 30’s, but I got into it because I liked records, and I wanted to make my own. Playing live was never a goal, or even writing, it’s just that you need those skills for recording.

What was the music that originally inspired you to begin with?

Michael Simmons
I dunno… just think of early Elton John

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Cool! So…I’ve always wondered, are you a self-taught musician? Also, what instruments do you play?

Michael Simmons
My mom made me do piano lessons for five years.  I may have gotten one good year out of that because I didn’t like practicing. Once she let me quit I figured things out on my own and started enjoying it.  Then I got into drumming and did that in high school. Eventually I needed to learn guitar and figured that out on my own when I was about 22.

First Days of Summer Documentary!!!

If you could sum up music in only one word, what word would that be for you?

Michael Simmons
Inspired.  I think God gives us music, or we tap into it. The greatness of the final song might just depend on how much the human has mis-filtered or misunderstood the great celestial download.

How poetic! Now…(ahem)…what is one album (or CD) in your music collection that would shock your friends and fans?

Michael Simmons
I have all the CD’s by Consolidated.  Any of those would work.

I LOVE this-it’s AMAZING!!!

What inspires you musically these days?

Michael Simmons
Wurlitzer electric pianos and sex.  Some things never change.

What is it you passionately feel you have still yet to accomplish musically?

Michael Simmons
I’d like to write something in a minor key.  I’d also like to come up with some chord changes that are really shocking and cool.  I’m working on that, but it’s still a little forced I think.

As far as music outside of your own, do you feel yourself currently being influenced by other people’s music? Do you still listen to new music…or heck, even old music?

Michael Simmons
I buy music voraciously, old and new, but I don’t have much time to listen to it.  The work I do now requires my full attention, and I can’t put music on in the background ever.  I’m also way too distracted to just to sit and listen, so it’s difficult for me. But there is always great new music.  Like most people my age I’m appreciating AOR (Adult oriented rock) in ways I never expected to.

What other styles/genres of music do you like/listen to?

Michael Simmons
Genres are lame.


How many musical projects are you currently involved in and what are your plans for each one?

Michael Simmons
I don’t have time to plan anything really, other than I’d like to do it.  There’s still an old sparkle*jets u.k. Album from 2004 that was a couple songs from being done that I’d like to see completed.  I’ve talked with Yorktown Lads about doing more stuff maybe this summer, so we’ll see.

What inspired (or motivated) you to finally do a solo record?

Michael Simmons
Well, I don’t write much, but I had to write a couple new things when the Yorktown Lads project happened, and that blew the cobwebs off a bit. Right after that I had a couple new tunes, maybe one per year, and I had an itch to do my own LP, I just needed songs,  As of last summer I still only had one ‘side’ worth and my friend Jeff Charroux challenged me to get the 2nd side written so I knocked it out in about a week and a half.

MS 3

If you could go back in time (in your musical career), what would you do differently?

Michael Simmons
Oh gosh, I dunno.  Everything, probably.  I should have hired a fitness trainer and a fashion consultant, that’s for damn sure.  I’m happy with the stuff I’ve made, and the people I made it with. They are all my family.

Are there any live shows planned?

Michael Simmons
Well, IPO is penciled in, but I don’t know what that will mean exactly.  Big Stir is trying to get me off the couch too, God bless ‘em. I had no intention of playing this music live and I’m not sure I even can.  Now that it’s out there i’m excited about it but nervous too. If I bother to do it I sure hope people come to see it at least. If there are only 3 people in the room I’m done.  haha!

Besides for your own music, what is your involvement with these school kids I keep seeing pictures of? What is the program all about? How did you get involved in it and…..

Michael Simmons
Well, Jamie from SJ*UK got into teaching back in the early 2000’s and we worked together building a pop music program at a performing arts high school.  We saw it as an alternative to kids only having marching band, orchestra, or choir as their musical choices in school. So we pioneered that in a big way, and now there are lots of other people doing similar things but ours is pretty epic.  Now I teach full time and we’ve integrated my skills of audio and video engineering into the situation, so we are a giant rock & roll / TV production studio. Every year our students leave here and get the jobs you and I only dreamed about.


HaHa! Check out these kids and their reactions!!!

What is it YOU get most out of music? (what you create and what you listen to?)

Michael Simmons
Melody is paramount for me, followed by harmony probably.  I love a good singer and a great guitar tone. Loud drums. I’m more into that stuff than lyrics, but you can’t beat a good lyric.  I love nothing more than hearing a great recording cranked up. I also love doing covers and trying to recreate the tiny little details that I love most in the original.  I get lots of heat for that from some folks, but I don’t care. I don’t record covers for them, I do it for myself. The original records are for everyone.

What music/bands/artists are you really into right now?

Michael Simmons
The big new-ish records for me right now are Dan Auerbach ‘Waiting on a Song’, Linus of Hollywood ‘Cabin Life’, and the new Sloan of course.  Last year I was freaking out about Field Music’s ‘Commontime’ and Sloan’s ‘Commonwealth’, both amazing and perfect. Before that I got really into an old late 90’s pop band called Daryll-Ann.


Sparkle*Jets U.K.

How did you originally meet Susan West and Jamie Knight and  form Sparkle*Jets UK?

Michael Simmons
We were playing the same open-mic show at this place called the Winged Heart in Fullerton CA.  Must have been 1995 or thereabouts. Maybe 1994. Apparently I got up on stage with them or they with me (can’t remember) and we played ‘solitary man’.  I didn’t know them at all, and formally met them much later. I was in another band and so were they but we combined three bands together, Fleetwood Mac style, and added some of my songs, which nobody had ever let me do before.  When the dust settled we became sparkle*jets, then sparkle*jets u.k., the pop guys found us, and that was that.

If you weren’t in the music world, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Michael Simmons
I’m not sure I am in the music world, am I?  I’m in the fringes of education, doing music. With any other job music would have been a sideline, so at least here I can dabble in it while I’m on the clock.  I spent many years helping other people get their music together, but now I get paid for it. I like helping guide the kids and showing them good music.

What other special “surprise!” talents do you you have besides being a musician, songwriter, producer, engineer and teacher?

Michael Simmons
Most of the work I’ve done in life is graphic design.  I’m not ‘trained’ and all the folks I know who are, totally kick my ass at it, but I’ve been able to subsidize my income with it somehow.


Mac or PC?

Michael Simmons
I was very anti-mac until I had to really use them every day about 10 years ago.  I’ve grown to love them and I can’t imagine dealing with Windows now. Yuck.

Most influential album of all time for you is…

Michael Simmons
I cannot possibly imagine.

Greatest concert you’ve ever attended is….

Michael Simmons
My go-to answer is Urge Overkill at the Hollywood Palace in 1993.  But I’ve seen too many amazing shows to count. Make sure to see Neil Finn or the Zombies if you haven’t yet.  And Sloan.

Favorite restaurant in O.C…Long Beach…Los Angeles that you would recommend to friends and out-of-towners (like those playing at International Pop Overthrow)….

Michael Simmons
Steak & Stein in Pico Rivera.  Still the best meal on the planet.

Do you follow sports at all? Which ones?

Michael Simmons 
Sportsball?  I like battle bots.  I love the winter olympics, but that’s about it.

Favorite place to live if you could live ANYWHERE in the world?

Michael Simmons
Liverpool if the weather wasn’t so shite. It’s my happy place for 100 reasons.   I also think I would really dig Maui. I could hang w/ Michael McCartney all the time.  Hell, I just might do it.

Favorite vacation spot and WHY?

Michael Simmons
Didn’t I just answer that?

Hobbies outside of music are….

Michael Simmons
Didn’t we just discuss that too?  I’m into vinyl LP’s, Model Railroads, Tall Ships, Dogs, Bikes.

Okay Okay….
Oh, hey….I recently heard you were looking for a new musical name (being there is another musical artist named Mike Simmons out there). Are you thinking about changing your name because of this?

Michael Simmons
Hell no.  People need to READ when scrolling through facebook.  I’m not changing my name. It’s not my fault I have one of the most common names in the world (that doesn’t SEEM common, but it is!).  There are dozens of people with my name doing music or similar things. Just recently someone with my name was doing a gig on the same bill with some former students of mine and it caused a bit of confusion.  I got invited to actually play with them so I could technically play the gig but I’ll probably be too busy to get down to the Echo.

Blondes, Redheads or Brunettes?

Michael Simmons
Yes please.  Seriously though, I think I’ve made this rather clear to you many times in the past.  The darker the better typically. But I love it all. Girls of any age are the joy of life.

The way to Michael Simmons heart is…

Michael Simmons 
Gotta love the Beatles.  They have to be number one, or we just can’t be.

What NO ONE knows about you is…

Michael Simmons
Actually, I’m about the most open person you’ll ever meet, on most topics.  I’m a huge fan of yours, but that’s no secret.

Aweeeee, Thanks Michael!

…and thank you for your time, Sir Sparklejet aka Michael Simmons!!!

For the rest of you, THANK YOU so much for reading!!! PLEASE feel free to leave comments below and then we’ll race each other back to the ocean!!! Weee!

Happy First Days of Summer, Everyone-XO!!!

MS 1


Crab Apple

Crab Apple Records Logo


***ALL PHOTOS either stolen off the internet, or discreetly “borrowed” from Michael Simmons personal FB page (shhhhhh). 😉 


Michael Simmons’ Music Is Available At: https://michaelsimmons.bandcamp.com/

…and Kool Kat Music KoolKatMusic/MichaelSimmons

Michael Simmons Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sirsparklejet/

Michael Simmons’ MUSIC Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/sirsparklejet

DOCUMENTARY for First Days of Summer: FirstDaysofSummerDocumentary

SJ*UK Facebook Page: Facebook/SparkleJetsUK

SJ*UK Website: SparkleJetsUK.com 

*** IPO Music Festival: International Pop Overthrow Festival 

MS 1st

Cheers to Cooking in the Spring!!!

Natural Recipes for Edible Rainbows

Unicorn Food

Let’s start with unicorns!

This has to be THE most magical cookbook I’ve ever seen! The colors alone are creatively unicorn ALL THE WAY!

Recipes include Savoury and Sweet!

This cookbook also includes how to make super pretty colors that ANY unicorn would love!!!

To me, this is a really sweet and magical reading book for any little child who loves the magic of unicorns and the magic of life and all of it’s possibilities…a magical experience through a picture book of yummy looking dreams!

I wish there was a boxed meal service that offered Unicorn Food….ahhhh…yet another possibility that COULD someday happen!

Get your copy today at: Amazon.com/UnicornFood

Author book page: SandraMahut/Cookbooks


The Family Table Slow Cooker
Author: Dominique DeVito

The Family Table


Springing in to potatoes!!!

I LOVE the title of this book, first off! It’s so comforting and appealing just to look at!

The photos within this cookbook look so good, I feel they DEMAND me to cook them for myself to convince me of how good they WILL be!

Recipes span from kid friendly (especially for my own picky kids!) to exotic (like Indonesian chicken curry).

I chose to test out the roasted potatoes because I wasn’t convinced I could actually pull off roasting potatoes in a slow cooker.  Roasted potatoes, at least for me, have always been SO COMPLICATED, yet they are one of my most favorite side dishes of all time…how can I never get them right?! From the preparation process to the par-boil process to the roasting process…ugh. I still never got it right and I’d always be exhausted from all the work they’d take.

Still, I was willing to chance trying this simple recipe out.


Slow Cooker 5

I used a Garlic infused extra virgin olive oil by a brand called, Pons. They offer a 3 pack (Garlic, Lemon and White Truffle. ***The white truffle is great to use when adding portobello mushrooms!) – all 8.4 Oz each on amazon at: Amazon/Pons.

These were a bag of small red potatoes. I used the recommended amount, but I had a couple small potatoes left over…I totally could have used ’em! Lots of yummy sauce to go around!


I used the high setting (hoping it would make them REALLY roasted). Boy oh boy, did this make my kitchen smell SO GOOD!!!! In fact, my Son kept asking, “Are they done yet? Are they done yet? I can’t wait anymore, I must have them now!!!” LOL, and you KNOW how good that might sound to a Mom’s ear of her super picky kid!

(tick tick tick)…

Finally they were done and ROASTED AS PROMISED!  The flavors were incredible and I am absolutely amazed at how easy these were, I’ll totally make them again and again!

I want to add here that that I LOVE that this recipe offered options with different oil combinations to use and when to omit something like fresh rosemary when using a specific oil-VERY helpful tips offered!

I’m looking forward to trying out the artichokes with lemon and herb next, in my slow cooker…what fun!

Hoping you have as much fun as I had glancing through this cookbook! Don’t forget sticky tabs to mark pages for your own favorite looking recipes!

Available NOW at Amazon.com/TheFamilyTableSlowCooker

Check out all the other AMAZING looking cookbooks by this same author at:


Author: Thom Logan

Vegan for beginners

Springing in to a busy day weekend treat!!!

I swear! I think Vegan is silently following me around…I keep attracting it! LOL!

Seriously….look at this cover! Could vegan eating really be this exciting and YUMMY…and, of course, easy to prepare?

In a time where our planet’s consciousness has been on the rise, it seems more and more people are excited about the possibility of cleansing their own bodies to receive more clarity, lightness, more emotional well being, and better health down the road.

Consider maybe, rather than a harsh cleanse (which DOES at times have it’s own benefits), maybe we try a Vegan diet for a while to see how it might work for us?!

My thing is…MAKE IT FUN AND TASTY…a simple demand, really.

Well…the author DID it with this book-whew! These are definitely vegan recipes in this book that I’m already excited about! (CHEERING!)

I decided to test out the
Avocado Black Bean Burgers

Here are photos I took, so you can see how super easy and “tidy” these are!


Simple ingredients (including quick oats and chia seeds) mashed together!!! Mash, mash, mash… 😀

(Drain the black beans…I wasn’t sure but yes, drain them!)

Side note: I didn’t have fresh jalapeño’s and I don’t know if that was what was actually called for, but I ended up using jarred ones instead and it was ABSOLUTELY right on!!!


Make into simple patties on that wonderful non-stick parchment paper. I covered these with another layer of paper and then cut them to separate them, since I wouldn’t be using them till the next day.

Blog Vegan

Coating the pan with olive oil…

Today was going to be a busy day in the recording studio, so I was VERY grateful to have these on hand and ready to go!

Blog Vegan

As the pan was heating, I quickly prepped my presentation…SO EASY, right??? The salsa I am serving these with today is a fresh green “roasted tomatillo” salsa I got from Trader Joes..YUM!

Blog 2

5-7 minutes on each side…

Blog Vegan

Look how amazing these look! YES, THEY TASTE AMAZING, TOO! I think a dry champagne pairs REALLY WELL with this dish! My personal fave from Trader Joes is the inexpensive Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava (See below for more on that brand).

The author kept his word on how much the reader would love these! I absolutely would plan on making these on any busy weekend!

Feeling excited to try more dishes out of this book now! The author has earned my trust!  😀

This cookbook also provides chapters available on vegan diet basics, physical benefits of a vegan lifestyle, handy measurement conversions, and a vegan FAQ, which really impressed me! Great for anyone entering a new vegan lifestyle…or re-entering it! Hey, good food is good food!

Available at Amazon.com/VeganForBeginners 

Thom Logan Author page: Amazon/ThomLoganBooks


Thanks so much for reading! I hope you got some value in this review blog!


ChampagneFreixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava ($9): Cava is another sparkling white made in Spain using the same method as Champagne, so it comes in at sometimes bargain prices. This bubbly is bright with fruit flavors that make it great for cocktails like mimosas, but it’s also quite the treat on its own.
Via Brit + Co : 14 of the Best Champagnes and Bubbly Bargains at Trader Joes




New Favorites New Comforts & Pesto!

New Favorites for New Cooks
By Carolyn Federman

New Favorites for New Cooks

A Parent / Picky-Kid Friendly Cookbook!

This is a perfect cooking book for my under 10 year old daughter and I to use together.  My children are pretty picky, and these recipes I absolutely approve of! They are exciting enough to keep my attention and simple enough to keep my daughter interested.

Our faves so far have been the Sweet and Salty Candied Walnuts, Piece-Of-Cake Lemon Cake, and Spring Pasta with Butter Sauce. These particular recipes are the more simpler of a vast array of other more adventurous yet still kid friendly recipes that the author has shared in this book.

Here are a couple snaps we took just for fun….

A Beautiful, Simple and LOVELY lemon cake! 

Lemon 2.jpg

Piece-Of-Cake Lemon Cake

There are LOTS of fun recipes in this cookbook to share with family and friends and I highly recommend it!

Please also check out the author’s profile (below) and her work with the Charlie Cart Project.

Available at Amazon.com/NewFavoritesforNewCooks

Author’s Amazon and Profile/Bio Page at Amazon/CarolynFederman


Hot for Food
101 Recipes to Feed Your Face
Author: Lauren Toyota

Vegan Comfort Classics

I love the feel and weight of this book…I know I know…but what about INSIDE of the book! It’s pretty impressive, I’ll start with that!

The book takes us through badass brunch faves first, then straight to finger foods…(yep, they’ve tragically reeled me in already!!!), then the chapters head on over to veggie sides and salads, hearty soups, stacked sandwiches, oodles of noodles, main events, sweet things and then BOOM, sauces….sigh….

V pan 3


OH MY MY MY MY MY! Even my vegan friends would recognize this as a major guilty pleasure! (This was sooooo freakin’ good!)

It took me a little while to prepare, simply because my favorite part about vegan cooking is playing with all the ingredients! REALLY! When I first added the TVP to water, it felt really cool…like grape nuts! It was fun watching it get spongy for the next 10 minutes!

The vegan cheese, herbs and other ingredients were split in a couple batches but mixed well in my trusty NutriBullet! The TVP mixture sauteed with onions, garlic and other spices smelled REALLY good-especially once I added that magical buffalo sauce!

To the left is the photo in the book. To the right is mine! WOOHOO-SCORE!

V leftovers

This makes a lot so be sure to share it with your friends! Otherwise, be prepared to freeze those leftovers!

This is the GREATEST vegan cookbook EVER! It’s on the decadent side at times, but hey, ya GOTTA have at least one in your cookbook collection, right? GET THIS ONE!!!!

Can’t wait to try other recipes in this book like the Baked Jalapeno Poppers, Filet-o-Tempeh Sandwich, and the Bean and Cheese Enchiladas Verdes!

Available at Amazon.com/VeganComfortClassics

Check out the LaurenToyotaYOUTUBEChannel

Lauren Toyota’s FACEBOOK PAGE


The Pesto Cookbook
Author: Olwen Woodies
The Pesto Cookbook


“Pesto is my obsession!” -Mychols 😀

This adorable author has created the most LOVELY cookbook here called, The PESTO Cookbook.

Through well thought out explanation, she takes us through the experience of enhancing and brightening flavors and variety – and with gloriously beautiful photos!

Colors and flavors indeed! This book was actually a LOT more than I expected, and SO…

I decided to try one out!

The beginning of a Rosemary Pesto romance!!!

Pesto 1.jpg

Soooooo incredibly good! Highly recommended on chicken or fish…or whatever! I served this with crackers, just to try it out. (I could eat this by the spoonful!)

Pesto 2.jpg

As I continued reading on through this cookbook, it never once never lost my attention.

Not only were there an amazing variety of pesto sauces, but this cookbook also includes other recipes from salads and soups to fish and meats and even vegetarian dishes that can go with any of the pesto’s early on in the cooking book.

This cookbook gives some really fun and inspired ideas…and I’m sayin’ it again…dipping sauces!

This is a book that stays in my collection!!!

Available 4/17/18 at Amazon.com/ThePestoCookbook

For MORE books by this author: Amazon.com/OlwenWoodierBooks


***THANK YOU FOR READING! Leave your comments and/or questions below at any time! I LOVE your feedback and even more so, I LOVE connecting with you!